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How to complain about health and safety at work

Health and Safety Law

There are many different statutes governing health and safety in the workplace. Your employer is under a duty to take reasonable care of your  health and safety in the course of employment. The duty to take reasonable care was explained by in the case of Wilsons and Clyde Coal Company v English [1938]. [see Law, guidance and standards on health and safety at work]

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

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.

If your employer fails in any of these obligations to you, you will have a number of avenues to claim compensation. You can resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal. [ see Constructive Dismissal, Employee Representative Guide]

Raise a Grievance

You can complain informally to your employer or raise a formal grievance.  Raising a formal grievance is very important because if you end up going to the Employment Tribunal, the tribunal may reduce your compensation if you didn’t raise a grievance first. [ see How to complain about health and safety at work,How to fight a Health and Safety dismissal, How to raise a grievance at work]

Try ACAS Early Conciliation

ACAS early conciliation is compulsory before bringing an employment tribunal claim against any employer. ACAS has a duty to conciliate in an attempt to reach an agreement between you and your employer before it goes to the Employment Tribunal for a hearing. You can first file your claim in the Employment Tribunal, and the ACAS Conciliator will be sent copies of the tribunal claim forms automatically and will contact you and your employer to promote resolution. You must be careful during Conciliation because some of what you say during Conciliation cannot be repeated in a subsequent employment tribunal hearing. The time limit for filing your claim is paused whilst the conciliation process is going on.

Claim in the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunals are an independent judicial body established to resolve disputes between employers and employees over employment rights. The tribunal will hear claims about employment matters such as unfair dismissal, discrimination, wages and redundancy payments. You make your tribunal claim on a special form known as the ET1. Your employer replies to your claim on a form called the ET3. [ see Automatically Unfair Dismissal – Health and Safety, How to fight a Health and Safety dismissal, How to raise a grievance at work]

Updated: 18/02/2020

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Health and Safety Executive – Workplace health and safety concerns


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