Trade union GMB is calling for a naming and shaming regime and stronger penalties when people are killed or seriously injured at work, including a “corporate murder” charge.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reportable workplace deaths last year totaled 144  – but according to the latest report by the Hazards Campaign, the HSE fatality statistics are only the tip of the iceberg.

GMB says when you add workplace suicides, road traffic crashes, deaths at sea, in the air and on railways, and include members of the public who were killed because of workplace negligence, it totals around 1,500 people who are killed every year, plus another 50,000 deaths caused by work-related illnesses such as cancers, lung and heart diseases.

“Just one death from a work-related incident is too many  – so 1,500 needless deaths is absolutely heartbreaking,” said Lynsey Mann, GMB National Health, Safety and Environment Officer. “These aren’t freak accidents or rare illnesses, they are almost all preventable and only happen because employers did not comply with the law.

“We must ensure that lessons are learned from these deaths and that the penalty fits the crime, negligent employers have been getting away with minimal fines and short sentences for too long.”

The union also pledges to step up the campaign for changes to health and safety legislation to include a charge of “corporate murder”.