ASLEF backs Scottish change

21 November 2013

ASLEF has responded to a consultation on a potential change in the law surrounding workplace deaths in Scotland. A draft Private Member's Bill has been set out by MSP Patricia Fergusson which would mean that all occupational disease death cases get a Fatal Accident Inquiry (the Scottish equivalent of an inquest ) and mean more involvement of the family of the deceased in the process. ASLEF supports the measures in the bill and has taken the opportunity to state that any inquiry into a non-contentious rail fatality should not compel a driver to give evidence in court but, rather, to allow a written statement as evidence should a driver wish to decline attending court.

Mick Whelan said: 'Train drivers involved in any incident on the railway involving the loss of life can and do suffer severe emotional upheaval which affects them for the rest of their lives. For most it will mean time off work recovering with the possible need of psychiatric help. Because of this our members have passed resolutions calling for the union to try and remove the compulsion for them to attend coroner's inquests in England and Wales to give evidence. This is because for many of them re-visiting the event in a potentially combative court hearing or meeting the family of the deceased who may feel the event was the driver’s responsibility can be incredibly disturbing.

'When people commit suicide in an incident involving trains or the rail network, ASLEF would like it to become standard practice for inquiries to accept a written statement from any train driver involved to be read out in court as evidence and not insist they attend, rather giving them the option to attend or not.

'In cases that are not suicide where there has been a fatality, for instance an incident at a level crossing involving a moving train, ASLEF would also like inquiries to make it a priority to consider accepting a written statement from any train driver involved to be read out as evidence alongside that given by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, Office of Rail Regulation etc. again giving them the option to attend or not.'

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