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Health and Safety at Work


Health and Safety

This section gives you information about your rights and obligations in health and safety at work. There are many different legislative provisions and common law obligations which make your employer responsible for your health and safety at work.

The duty to take reasonable care was explained in the case of Wilsons and Clyde Coal Company v English [1938]. Your employer has to exercise due care and skill in four particular areas;

  • Provide competent staff
  • Provide adequate plant and equipment
  • Provide a safe system of work, and
  • Provide safe premises

Common Law

Health and safety is not only governed by legislation. Under what is known as ‘common law’ all employers have a duty of care imposed on them to protect their employees. Many of these common law duties are confirmed or strengthened by statute and regulations.


What protection is there?

The law gives two types protection in health and safety;

First to employees whose role includes designated health and safety duties, for example safety officers and fire marshals as well as those who represent their colleagues on health and safety. If you fall into this category, you are entitled to minimum compensation, regardless of your actual losses.

Second, all employees including;

  • those who are involved in the election of health and safety representatives
  • those who bring harmful or potentially harmful situations to their employer’s attention,
  • those who walk out or refuse to return to work in certain circumstances, those who take certain steps to protect themselves or others in the face of imminent danger

Updated: 15/03/2020

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