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Detailed Practice Notes written by our Professional Support Lawyers, guiding you through the key issues in each topic.
Health and safety law - overviewBackground
Whether or not you consider that we live in a joyless "health and safety gone mad" world where all fun is prevented by over-zealous health and safety officers, clearly accidents at work, including fatal ones, occur in significant numbers.
Official statistics published on 28 June 2011 show that the number of workers killed in Britain last year increased. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provisional data for the year April 2010 to March 2011, shows that 171 workers were killed compared with 147 the previous year. The rate of fatal injury is now 0.6 per 100,000 workers, up from 0.5 per 100,000 workers the previous year. The figures also show the rate of fatal injuries in several of the key industrial sectors:
50 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded - a rate of 2.4 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 61 deaths in the past five years and an increase from the 41 deaths (and rate of 1.9) recorded in 2009/10
34 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded - a rate of 8.0 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 35 deaths in the past five years and a fall from the 39 deaths (and rate of 10.4) recorded in 2009/10, and
nine fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded - a rate of 8.7 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 8 deaths in the past five years and an increase from the 3 deaths (and rate of 2.8) recorded in 2009/10
Arguably, all these fatal injuries and other serious accidents taking place in the work place are or should be preventable. A growing body of law therefore exists for health and safety; some proactive, such as the laws regarding the assessment and regulation of risk, the remaining law being reactive, such as the criminal offences for health and safety breaches or personal injury (negligence) law enabling victims to obtain compensation for these breaches.
Health and safety law in LexisPSL Commercial
In line with our aims to be a practical guide for commercial lawyers, we do not go into detail in this topic but aim to give an introduction to the area. We have therefore set out in a limited number of practice notes the key elements of health and safety law, as described below.
Introduction to health and safety law
This practice note sets out the legislative framework for health and safety in the UK, which can be summarised as being the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA 1974, s 3(1)) and its subordinate legislation, together with the implementation of European Union directives made under Article 118A of the Treaty of Rome (now consolidated as part of Article 153(1) TFEU.
The Structure of UK health and safety law
In this practice note we set out health and safety law from a compliance point of view, describing how criminal or civil liability can arise for breaches of health and safety law.
Management of health and safety at work
Having set out the liabilities that arise in an earlier note, this note describes the risk assessment structure required by law to ensure as far as reasonably practicable that work places do not present health and safety risks.
Summary of key health and safety regulations
Although the management of health and safety, particularly when considering the influence of European Union directives, is towards a risk-based approach, there is still a substantial number of prescriptive measures that must be adopted to minimise risks in certain areas. Consequently, health and safety law contains a large body of secondary legislation to address the risks that certain hazards present. We summarise key regulations in this note.
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