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Health and Safety and the new 2008 Act


Lawdit Solicitors - Expert Author

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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:

- Negligence.

- 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 Act 1974.

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 to health;

- 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

About the Author

Lawdit Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-05-19 15:50:16 in Legal Articles

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