The law says that employers are responsible for the safety of their workers while they are at work. Workers have an obligation to look after themselves as well, but employers must comply with a number of specific, legal requirements.
This guide explains the basic rights to which workers are entitled within the workplace.
Health and safety in the workplace
The law relating to health and safety in the workplace underwent a significant change in October 2013.
The first case to establish that an employer held a duty of care to their workers was decided in 1837. If an employer breached that duty of care and a worker was injured, compensation would be awarded. Various statutes (regulations) aimed at improving health and safety in the workplace then followed.
Statutory protection for workers culminated in the late 1980s with the issuing of a number of European directives. By way of response, the UK government introduced a number of regulations in the early 1990s (for example the Workplace Regulations and Work Equipment Regulations), governing health and safety at work.
These laws meant that employees could also rely on breaches of these regulations when bringing compensation claims against employers.
However, due to the changes which came into force in October 2013, employees can now only rely on breaches of the regulations in very limited circumstances, making it more difficult for injured workers to obtain compensation if they are injured through no fault of their own.
Making an accident at work claim