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Written by
on 09 November 2012


The rights workers have regarding their personal health and safety at work are due to be scaled down according to a report in The Independent on 3rd November 2012. Under the proposed changes employees that are injured at work will now have to work harder to prove the employer is to blame for the accident. This means that is will be harder for those who are injured to seek compensation for their injuries and financial problems that have been caused as a result of the incident.

Many critics of the new tougher legislation have concerns that the rights of workers will resemble those of Victorian times. Labour has claimed the proposals have been sneaked into parliament and are designed to reduce the employer’s liability for accidents in the workplace. Those injured will have to be able to prove that their managers were to blame.  The Government are claiming that the changes will help to reduce the amount of red tape surrounding health and safety and compensation claims.  It also hopes that companies will be treated more fairly and reduce the amount that is required to be paid out for bogus personal injury claims.

A Risk to Health and Safety Rights and Standards

Unions are not happy about the proposals. They claim that the changes in legislation will result in higher litigation costs and a reduced level of health and safety standards in the workplace. Unions also worry that employees will find it harder to make a claim when they need to be compensated for injuries that were not caused by their own actions.

The Health and Safety Executive released the figures regarding injuries and workplace fatalities last week. During 2011 there were 173 deaths and over 22,000 serious injuries caused in the workplace. It is clear that there is some way for companies to come in order to reduce these unacceptable figures significantly. Unions are concerned that these figures will rise if employees feel more confident that a personal injury claim will not be added to the risk of being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive.

Health and Safety Under Review

Currently the Health and Safety Regulations are being examined after the independent report by Löfstedt suggested reviewing the current regulations. In addition to these Regulations the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform bill are also being examined with strict liability being removed. The strict liability means that companies will be liable for all injuries if health and safety laws have been breached, regardless of whether the company were negligent. The removal of strict liability wasn’t suggested by Löfstedt, he did however think that the liability should be reviewed to see if it was necessary.

Employees should be wary about the changes and not see it as a reason to reduce their focus on health and safety. If any company is found in breach of the laws they face being prosecuted by the HSE regardless of whether their employees are injured or not. Health and Safety consultants can provide excellent health and safety training to all personnel to ensure the laws are being followed. Call 0800 1488 677 to discuss the health and safety services such as training in more detail.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.