Health & Safety at Work
There are two aspects to the duty of an employer to ensure that the health and safety of its employees and workers are protected whilst at work. Firstly, common law, or judge made law that provides that an employer has to take reasonable care for the safety of those people its operations might reasonably affect and secondly, legislation, or statutory duties, many of which originate from European Law that flow from the central obligation in Section 2(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1974 which says: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”
A breach of that duty is a criminal offence and can be relied on in civil claims. There are many regulations, such as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, the Control of Substance Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and others that cover specific industries and businesses. Government Guidance may also be issued, such as that in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is vital that employers adhere to all relevant health and safety provisions to ensure that the workplace is safe, and that employees and workers are not put at risk. A failure to provide a safe place of work may give rise to claims under both health and safety laws and employment rights protecting employees’ employment and contractual rights.