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Health and Safety Legislation: Is It Really Worth It?

For many years we have effectively ‘muddled through’ , doing our best to provide some form of protection and legislation relating to accidents at work.It must not be forgotten that this country led the world during the industrialisation in the 19th century. Huge factories flourished and many people became rich.  This however came at the expense of workers who toiled in those factories to keep body and soul together.Therefore, from a historical perspective, it was with reluctance that heath & safety legislation was finally enacted to protect employees and raise the standards of safety within factories in the early part of the last century. Once the legislations had been provided and occasionally amended, health & safety legislation effectively stayed the same for most of the 20th century.Health & safety legislation was finally updated when Europe began to become all encompassing. The countries, who had signed various European Charters, were to now be subjected to legislation from Europe.I raise these points having just considered an article on height regulations that now apply to merchant and shipping vessels. It struck me that what appears finally to be the case, is that we now have in place regulations that protect employees significantly better than the legislation that we had in place prior to the introduction of the Health & Safety at Work Regulations of the 1990s.There has been case law from the Courts surrounding these regulations. There was bound to be some dispute as to the wording used in the regulations and it is only correct that the Courts do their best to interpret the regulations in the correct manner. The Courts do not always, at least from the Client’s perspective, get it right which is why of course we have an appeals system, all the way to the Supreme Court.Accidents do, of course, happen. We can never guard against an accident occurring. The purpose of the regulations was to try to prevent accidents occurring and even to some extent, to limit the effect of the accident and the seriousness therefore of the injury caused.There can be no doubt however, that where accidents do occur, we are now in a position where the regulations quite rightly allow claims to be made - and for compensation to be payable for injuries sustained. Over the course of the next few years when further regulations are enacted for more unusual work places, workers will, quite rightly, be in a position to claim for injuries sustained.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.