Construction site

Workplace death and injury

Campaigning for corporate accountability

The development of a body of work concerning occupational death and injury has been instrumental in exposing the actual scale of the problem in the workplace and changing the way such data is made publically available. Importantly, LJMU research has influenced ways in which occupational safety is regulated and enforced, and helped to provide support to families bereaved from work-related deaths.

Research conducted within LJMU’s Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion has generated an alternative understanding of deaths and injuries at work that has impacted on the policy process concerning these issues. The Centre for Corporate Accountability (CCA) has been central to the ways in which the research has reached government departments, campaigning organisations and the wider labour movement, for example, the Trades Union Congress and the Institute of Employment Rights. Established as a charity in 1999, the CCA was created to promote worker and public safety; LJMU’s Professor Steve Tombs* was Chair of the Board of Directors.

The CCA quickly established itself as a key source of research and expertise on matters of occupational safety regulation; Professor Tombs and colleagues produced reports on safety law enforcement, directors’ duties and levers for law compliance, most of which were funded by trades unions and some by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The CCA had ongoing engagement with senior civil servants and ministers and was a key campaigner in interventions leading to the passage of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (2008). It subsequently provided Law Society endorsed training to the law firms involved in prosecuting corporate manslaughter cases.

Professor Tombs, through the CCA, successfully campaigned for numerous changes in HSE policy and practice, for example, that prosecutions should not be delayed by inquests. Likewise, that the maintenance and publication of records relating to work-related deaths was one basis for accountability. It is of note that from 2008 the HSE has published the names and details relating to these reported fatalities.

Research concerning the inadequacy of state responses to occupational deaths led Professor Tombs to establish the CCA’s Work-Related Death Advisory Service to provide free legal advice to bereaved families to facilitate the investigation and prosecution processes arising from work-related deaths. The CCA’s annual case load of 40-60 cases indicates significant social impact which earned the charity the Law Society Quality Mark.

Find out more about the research within the Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion.

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*Professor Tombs left LJMU in 2013 to take up a position at the Open University.