RR10 - How the Courts are interpreting HSE guidance and health and safety regulations

Recent HSE guidance has included an introductory paragraph which states:

This guidance is issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance as illustrating good practice.

However, employers' duties to employees are to be found in both the criminal and common law. Failure to comply with health and safety Regulations can result in the criminal prosecution of an employer by the enforcement authority. However, health and safety Regulations can also be used to assist an employee bringing civil proceedings against an employer for a personal injury arising from work. The available evidence would appear to suggest that some of the health and safety Regulations which might be considered most pertinent to the prevention of Work Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULDs), eg the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations, have probably been examined more often and in more depth in the civil Courts than in the criminal Courts.

The Research Report Series are produced in Adobe Acrobat. The use of the latest version of the software is recommended which is available at the Adobe website via the link on this page.

Assistance in the use of Adobe Acrobat PDF files is available on our FAQs page.

Updated 2021-04-15