Families Against Corporate Killers says strategy, launched yesterday, offers 'mostly empty words'

A safety campaigning group has hit out at the strategy launched yesterday by the Health and Safety Executive, branding it a “severe disappointment”.

Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) also slammed the video used to promote the strategy, because it featured steel producer Corus. The firm has been attacked by FACK following the deaths of nine workers in the six years up to 2007, including the son of the founding member of FACK.

“This strategy is a severe disappointment,” the group said. “We had to fight to be included in the consultation process and this strategy does not seem to take our comments on board, offers nothing new, nothing strong enough to show us that justice will prevail, nor that the employers like those who felt free to ignore existing health and safety law and kill the people we loved, will be forced to comply in the future out of fear of strong enforcement action if they don't.”

FACK added that the strategy “seriously underestimates the scale of health and safety failures by employers”.

About 1,500 to 1,600 people are killed in workplace incidents each year, it said - more than those killed in murders.

“While these failures cost society about £30bn a year, those responsible pay less than a quarter of the financial bill,” FACK said. “By downplaying the costs, the HSE reduces their claim on the public purse for the resources to do the job properly.”

“This strategy is mostly empty words,” the campaign group added.

When questioned at the launch of the strategy over the use of Corus in the video, Judith Hackitt, chair of the HSE, said the firm had been deliberately chosen, as it showed a company that was committed to turning around its poor health and safety track record.

“We’re all human, and we all make mistakes”, Hackitt said. “The importance lies in learning from these mistakes and Corus has shown that it is committed to moving away from its history of health and safety incidents, and so we support them.”

The HSE strategy aims to cut injuries and deaths in the workplace, with a particulr focus on improving the the availability of codes of practice and help for SMEs. About £1m worth of documents would be made freely available on the safety body's website.