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Health and Safety Law – Avoid falling off a ladder and into the dock

Health and Safety Law rarely arouses interest, either amongst companies or lawyers, yet its importance is growing and it has become the area in which companies and their directors are likely to find themselves in the dock, facing a criminal prosecution.

Jacob Gifford Head, Thomas More Chambers

Duties

In many jurisdictions, as with other regulatory offences, the legislation covering Health and Safety prosecutions is not new, but there is a growing appetite amongst regulatory authorities to seek criminal sanctions for non-compliance. For example, in England and Wales, the legislation governing health and safety law dates back to 19741 but provides for a wide-ranging set of duties at section 2. These include duties towards, as far as is reasonably practicable:

(a) the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are safe and without risks to health;

(b) arrangements for ensuring safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances;

(c) the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure the health and safety at work of his employees;

(d) as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health (including the ability to safely enter and exit it); and

(e) the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work…

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