Accident Claims for Breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 serves to offer protection to employees and society from risks of injury that are caused by work related activities. The Act offers guidance and regulations that help maintain the highest safety standards in the workplace.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Duties
The Act sets out the duties of all people who are involved in any activity within a workplace. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Suppliers and manufacturers who enter the workplace
If any person fails to comply with the contents of the Act, they may be liable for legal action being taken against them.
Responsibilities and Duties of the Employer
The Act sets out the legal duty of care that an employer has to ensure they maintain a reasonable and adequate level of health and safety within the workplace. If an employer does not honour this duty of care, they will have strict liability for claims of personal injury in the workplace.
To abide by the Health and Safety at Work Act, an employer must provide staff with:
- Effectively maintained PPE and reliable work practices
- Effective storage solutions for PPE
- Safe transport methods for PPE
- Effective training on the use and maintenance of PPE
- A safe environment to work in
- Safety policies and processes that are provided in writing
The Act details that employers are not allowed to charge their employees for:
- The expense of implementing safety measures
- The provision of PPE
Employers also have a legal obligation to maintain their duty of care to those on their premises or those who could be affected by the work that they carry out, even if they are not employees. This legal duty means that people who visit the workplace and members of the public who are in the vicinity of works carried out are protected too.
Responsibilities and Duties of Employees
The Act also sets out the responsibilities of employees in ensuring that the workplace is safe. This includes:
- Employees must take responsibility for individual health and safety and that of those that they work with. No undue risks should be taken.
- The employee must comply with the safety practices of the workplace, and they must complete safety training provided
- Employees are required to maintain and not disturb any items, signage and equipment that is provided by the employer for health and safety purposes.
If an employee fails to meet their responsibilities, legal action can be taken against them.
Enforcement of Health and Safety Laws
Health and Safety inspectors have specific powers and rights to ensure that workplaces are safe. This includes:
- The power to enter the workplace without having made an appointment or given prior notice
- The right to investigate the workplace and its equipment
- The right to remove equipment from the premises to examine it
- Engage others to assist in their inspection and examinations including the police
- The right to give a caution to the employer and ask questions
- Make immediate seizures of hazardous equipment or substances.
The type of inspector that visits a workplace will depend on the size of the business. A Health and Safety Executive Officer will inspect large businesses whereas Local Authority Environmental Health Officers will complete the investigations of smaller firms.
Health and Safety Legislation Breaches
If a business breaches the Health and Safety laws, a legal notice can be served which will demand that action is taken or ceased. The Improvement Notice will explain what the breach is and offer advice on how the problem can be rectified. It will also highlight the time limit that is in place for the business to make changes. A Prohibition Notice will demand immediate action from the business and will prohibit the firm’s use of dangerous equipment, substances or practices.
If the health and safety laws are breached, both employers and employees can be liable for legal action, with penalties currently set at:
- Magistrate’s Court fines up to £5,000
- Crown Court – Unlimited fine and prison sentence.
Personal injury claims for Health and Safety breaches
If you have sustained an injury at work due to your employer failing to meet their duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work legislation, you should be entitled to claim compensation.
Personal injury solicitors have helped thousands of people in this position make successful work accident claims. For a free case assessment and to find out if you have a valid claim, call free on 0800 678 1410. If your solicitor can help, they will do so on a 100% no win no fee basis.