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Shifting the health and safety burden

Ian Pennock isn’t convinced by the government’s 
proposed changes to health and safety in the 
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

16 November 2012

The government’s proposals to remove civil liability for breach of the strict liability imposed on employers by health and safety legislation is not just misguided. It is also another attempt to favour insurance companies over society at large. Currently, insurance companies usually have to compensate injured workers through employers’ compulsory insurance. The proposals would shift the burden of ‘looking after’ an injured worker from employers to every tax payer.

However, that presumes such a change would be effective, and there must also be doubts about that. The ‘direct effect’ of European directives and regulations has been with us for some time now, so whatever parliament does, claimant lawyers will simply plead the direct and indirect effect of the directives. If necessary, they will also take the UK to the European Court of Justice under its ‘Francovich’ liability for failing to effectively impleme...

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