Health and safety law is a type of law that is designed to safeguard the health, safety and well-being of a nation`s populace. In terms of the United States of America, this type of law is enforced via the state (rather than at a federal level). Under the umbrella of health and safety law, a combination of inspectorate, regulatory control and criminal law types may be utilized in order to achieve justice in specific cases.
United Kingdom Health and Safety Law
In the United Kingdom, health and safety law may be advocated via the country`s Health & Safety Executive. For example, this governing body may assist an injured worker in seeking out appropriate compensation (in the form of punitive damages) against the corporation or person who caused the injury. In this sense, health and safety law overlaps with worker`s compensation law.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is the UK`s primary guideline for health and safety law in the workplace. This Act is designed to serve a threefold purpose. In the first place, the Act is there to secure the health, safety and well-being of men and women within all work environments. In the second place, the Act is there to protect others from threats to health and safety that are linked with the activities of workers. Lastly, the Act is meant to control and manage usage of dangerous substances and toxins (such as pollution).
Punitive Damages May be Awarded to Health and Safety Plaintiffs
Typical outcomes for health and safety law cases in which plaintiffs receive verdicts in their favour include fines and (in rare cases) imprisonment. Some incidences of corporate manslaughter have been recorded within the framework of United Kingdom health and safety law. Another strategy for injured employees is to seek out a verdict via the civil court system. In civil law cases for health and safety violations, negligence and occupiers liability are common reasons for suing.
Notable Health and Safety Cases and Awards (USA)
One notable health and safety law case (which received significant attention within the mass media) is the Station night club fire case. The Rhode Island nightclub in question burned in winter of 2003, following a performance by hard-rock band, Great White.
Because the fire was caused by the band`s pyrotechnic display, negligence for deaths in the incident (100 people lost their lives) fell on the band members, the band manager, and the Station night club`s owners. Punishment for this tragic violation of health and safety law included a suspended, ten-year sentence for one defendant, as well as prison time for another defendant.
In addition to the criminal court case, a civil court case was also launched, with civil damages of 1 billion dollars being awarded to the victim`s loved ones.
Employer Guidelines for Health and Safety Law
Employers have specific responsibilities with regard to health and safety law. These employers must make certain that the health, safety and well-being of their workers is carefully protected as workers perform their regular work duties. In addition, they must produce policy statements that explain how health, safety and well-being will be safeguarded.
Other responsibilities of employers include consulting with unions and union representatives. The overarching goal is always to protect all parties, including workers, contractors and visitors to a workplace.
Employee Guidelines for Health and Safety Law
Employees must make certain that they don`t put their own persons (or other persons) at risk. They must also work alongside management in order to ensure that all health and safety guidelines in the workplace are followed carefully.
When employers and employees work together, in a focused effort to create and follow set guidelines, `best practices` for health and safety law will be adhered to in the most ethical and responsible manner. Management will seek to minimize or eliminate litigation related to worker`s compensation claims or related legal or civil cases, while employees will seek to protect their own safety and public safety through the careful, safe performance of work duties in a range of environments.
While rules vary from country to country, most developed nations do follow similar regulations and criteria when designing health and safety systems that protect workers and private persons from accidents or negligence in the workplace.