Health and Safety and the new 2008 Act
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5th May 2009
It is a well known rule that an employer can be made liable for
accidents which occur in the workplace.
Employers can even be personally
liable to employees for:
- Breach of a statutory duty (for
example, any Regulations or Acts in force such as the Occupiers
Liability Act 1957).
- Breach of contract (i.e. breach of the
implied term to ensure that the workplace is safe to work in).
An employer can also be made
criminally liable under the Health and Safety at Work etc
The new Health and Safety (Offences) Act
2008, which received Royal
Assent on 16 October 2008 and came into force on 16 January 2009, aims
to impose much more severe penalties on those employers who fail to
abide by health and safety rules. The purpose of the Act is to raise
the maximum penalties available to the courts in respect of certain
health and safety offences. As a result, the maximum penalty for breach
of health and safety law rises from £5,000 to £20,000 and the range
of imprisonable offences is broadened to make imprisonment available
for most health and safety offences up to a maximum term of 2 years.
Now, employers could now face up to 2
years in prison or a fine (or
both) if they fail to discharge their general duties to their employees
by, for example:
- If they fail to provide and maintain
plant and systems of work that are practicable, safe and without risk
- If they fail to provide information,
training and supervision
necessary to ensure the health and safety at work of their employees.
Further, employees could face the same
penalties for failure to take
care of the health and safety of themselves or others affected by their
acts or omissions.
Therefore, it appears that the law is
getting tough on those employers
who are prepared to risk the health and safety of both themselves,
their employees, and others at work. In light of the new Act it is
advisable that all employers revise their health and safety policies to
ensure that they are compliant with the new law.
Corinne Day is a trainee
solicitor who specialises in information
technology law and intellectual property law. She can be contacted via
e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-05-19 15:50:16 in Legal Articles