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05 July 2007 - Immediate Release

HSE’s refusal to provide information on deceased workers subject to scrutiny by Information Commissioner

The information commissioner is determining whether or not HSE’s refusal to provide the CCA the names of individuals who have died at work is in breach of the Freedom of information Act.

The CCA has been monitoring work-place deaths since 2001 and tracks how these deaths are dealt with by the investigation and prosecution bodies. It is the only non-governmental body to do so. This information is on our website.

The HSE, however, has repeatedly refused to provide the CCA the names of those people whose deaths have been reported to it, even after the information was made public at the coroner’s inquest. This makes tracking work-related deaths extremely difficult.

In February 2006, the CCA sent in an appeal to the Information Commissioner. The Commissioner has now informed the CCA that it is undertaking a review of HSE’s decision, and is asking the HSE to respond.

The HSE had refused to give the information saying that “giving the names of the deceased would cause distress to their surviving family members, so contravening their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 8 (1), "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.""

The CCA argues that the information it seeks will already have been made public at the opening of the inquest and so would not cause distress to families. In addition, the CCA argues that the HSE’s press office and other departments do already, on occasion, provide the names of the deceased workers to journalists and others on request – and that the HSE is therefore applying its own principle very selectively. It also argues that other state bodies provides names of the deceased - without facing any problems from non-compliance with the European convention on Human Rights

Mick Holder who monitors deaths for the CCA said:

“The HSE’s refusal to provide details of those who have died at work means that deaths often simply remain a statistic - and are not understood to be a deep personal tragedy for a family. In addition, without the name of the person who died, it becomes nearly impossible to track how the HSE responds to the death. It is clearly in the public interest for the HSE to be forced to change its unnecessarily restrictive policy.”

David Bergman, Executive Director of the CCA said

“The work that we undertake in monitoring work-related deaths honours the people who have died and is very much in the public interest. It is our view that the HSE has no lawful reason to restrict this information - which is in anyway in the public domain, though often very difficult and time-consuming to access. It is clearly in the public interest for details about the circumstances of work-place deaths be given as much media and public attention as possible to prevent other similar deaths, and to allow the role of state bodies to be monitored.”

To download the original request, HSE's refusal, and CCA's appeal to the HSE
To download the HSE's refusal of appeal

The Centre for Corporate Accountability is a human rights charity advising those bereaved from work-related deaths, and working on issues of safety, law enforcement and corporate accountability.

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Centre for Corporate Accountability

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Page last updated on July 5, 2007