The number of workers in Scotland who are dying from industrial harm has reached the highest level since 2019, prompting calls for an urgent reform of corporate homicide legislation.
Scottish Hazards, the national charity for safety at work, and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) published research showing 21 workers died in the past year – almost double the 2019 total of 11.
The organisations have called the figures “unacceptable” and are urging the Scottish Government to replace the Corporate Homicide Act (2007).
Over 300 workers have been died since the law was introduced but there have been no prosecutions recorded.
Both charities are calling for the introduction of new statutory offences to hold companies and corporations to account for workplace deaths.
STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “It’s incumbent on Scotland’s trade union movement to remember all those who have died at work and pledge to make the workplace safer in their honour.
“It’s unacceptable and frankly galling that the amount of workers in Scotland who have died at work has increased.
“Bosses are ultimately responsible for workers’ health and safety and they must be held accountable.
“We cannot allow this to pass unchecked and on International Workers’ Memorial Day the STUC reiterate our call to remember the dead whilst fighting for the living.”
Ian Tasker, Scottish Hazards chief executive, said: “In January 2021, Humza Yousaf, then cabinet secretary for justice, said in a Scottish Parliament debate that he wanted to work with bereaved families to develop culpable homicide proposals that addressed reserved matters.
“Sadly, nothing happened and it was no more than warm words in a debate.
“Scottish Hazards wants corporate killing legislation that is seen as a deterrent. Businesses cannot so wilfully put people at risk whilst at work. We need a just and proper punishment for those who, through corporate negligence and neglect, put workers’ lives at risk in the workplace.”
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.