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Lords Vote 'Yes' to Health & Safety Changes

The House of Lords last week finally approved government-sought changes to health and safety law, meaning firms will not face civil action over workplace accidents where they are not directly at fault.

Recommendations made by Professor Ragnar Löfsted of King’s College in London included the removal of ‘strict liability’ for civil damages under certain health and safety regulations.

The Lords accepted these recommendations after seeking changes and once enacted the new rules will mean a firm would not face a civil liability claim if it was not responsible for the incident or was not negligent.

The government had been seeking to simplify health and safety rules for some time, “concentrating enforcement on higher risk areas and on dealing with serious breaches [of the rules]”, according to the Department for Work & Pensions.

A government peer, Viscount Younger, said in a Lords’ debate on the measures that it was ministers’ view that it was “not reasonable or fair that employers should be held liable to pay compensation when they have done nothing wrong and taken all reasonable steps to protect their employees”.

The government was committed to maintaining and building on the UK's strong health and safety record, Younger said.

“The codified framework of requirements, responsibilities and duties placed on employers to protect their employees from harm are unchanged, and will remain relevant as evidence of the standards expected of employees in future civil claims for negligence,” he added.

Welcoming the new rules, which were due to come into force on 6 April but which had been held up by the Lords, Alex Jackman, head of policy at the Forum for Private Business, said: “It’s a fact of life that accidents, unfortunately, sometimes do just happen with nothing that can be done to prevent them.

“This new approach to H&S goes a long way to recognising this.”


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May 01, 2013 07:54 AM
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