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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 05:58 GMT 06:58 UK
Scots 'more likely' to die at work
Sign
More than 60 people died in Scotland in two years
Scotland has the UK's highest rate of deaths at work but the lowest level of prosecutions, according to a new report.

The study suggested that only a quarter of all deaths led to the employer being taken to court - compared to a third in England and Wales.

And the Centre for Corporate Accountability (CCA) also said that the average fines for workplace deaths were significantly lower than in the rest of Britain.

David Bergman
David Bergman: "A lack of deterrent"
The report, which was produced in conjunction with the union Unison, was exclusively obtained by BBC Scotland's Frontline programme.

The CCA campaigns for employers to be held accountable when they breach safety laws.

Director David Bergman said its latest research had shown a higher level of death and injury among the Scottish workforce than in the rest of the UK.

Over the last two years 62 people have been killed at work north of the border.

"There's clearly a problem. In Scotland more people are dying, more people are being injured at work than in other parts of the country," he said.

Death and injury

"In addition to that our research shows that there is a very low prosecution rate following investigation into these deaths and major injuries.

"And that will result in a lack of deterrent that filters through the system allowing employers to feel that they can cause death and injury through reckless or negligent operation of their activities and escape accountability.

"They can get away with it and, clearly, that is going to result in more deaths and more injuries taking place."

Bill Gilchrist
Bill Gilchrist could not explain the difference
The report said that prosecutions followed a quarter of workplace deaths north of the border, compared to a third in England and Wales.

Deputy Crown Agent Bill Gilchrist said he did not know why there was such a gap.

He suggested that the different standard of evidence required in the Scottish court system may be one of the explanations.

Mr Gilchrist said: "We have a policy to prosecute where there is sufficient evidence and, if you want an explanation for a difference, you would have to look at individual cases.

"You won't get the answer from the statistics."

'Low level of fines'

The CCA said its research had also shown that fines imposed in Scotland after a successful prosecution were "extremely low" compared to England and Wales.

"In the rest of Britain the average fine was about 60,000 per death, not a very large sum of money anyway," said Mr Bergman.

"In Scotland it was 7,000 on average, a very low level of fine.

"I mean, it's hardly worth prosecuting if you are going to get sentences like that."

See also:

15 Oct 02 | Scotland
12 May 02 | Scotland
26 Aug 01 | Scotland
30 Jul 01 | Business
27 Apr 01 | Business
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