Friday, January 16, 2009

Directors face Porridge over 'elf 'n' Safety

On route this morning to represent a member in Hertfordshire I had to pull over to sort out a flat tyre just when a really interesting topic was starting on the BBC Radio 4 “Today” programme. I’m sure everyone has sometime or other experienced similar frustrating moments!

On 16 January the “Health & Safety (Offences) Act 2008 came into force. Thanks to modern technology I was able to listen again to this report just now on the BBC iplayer.

Tim Hill, from Eversheds Solicitors, was being interviewed. This superb law was due to a private members bill sponsored by London Labour MP (and UNISON member) Keith Hill. Even before this I thought that Keith was an impressive figure. He gave a tour de force presentation at a London UNISON Labour Link meeting last year. Thanks I think to Keith the bill was supported by the Government.

Many fines for breaches of health and safety law have been increased significantly but for the first time, imprisonment is now an option for the Courts for a wide range of offences.

Tim (no relation I assume to Keith) thought that this will have a greater effect than the much better publicised Corporate Manslaughter Act, since far, far more managers will be potentially affected.

Managers and directors must “enable that things are done safely”. The board will have to take health & safety as seriously as they do finance and production. If they turn a blind eye or are reckless and break the law then Eversheds will inform their clients that for the first time that they face Porridge, not a fine that the company could pay and write off against tax.

It’s a lovely irony I suppose that potentially one of the most far reaching laws to benefit workers and meet trade union demands should had been nurtured and brought to life by Tony Blair’s former PPS.


Anonymous said...

I will have to have a listen to that John,as a H@S rep for the CWU in a delivery office,i've been ignored and shunted to one side over issues of H@S,this is a great advance,i look forward to Messers leighton and Crazier being huckled off to the jail.

John Gray said...

Hi Brian
Yes, I’m no fan of locking people up and wish it could be different but we will have to jail a few directors before the message sinks in - “to encourage the others”.