Beta This is a new way of showing guidance - your feedback will help us improve it.

Health and safety at work: criminal and civil law

1. Overview

Both criminal and civil law apply to workplace health and safety. They’re not the same.

As an employer, you must protect your workers and others from getting hurt or ill through work.

If you don’t:

  • a regulator such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or local authority may take action against you under criminal law
  • the person affected may make a claim for compensation against you under civil law

Neither HSE nor local authorities have responsibility for applying civil law or setting the rules for the conduct of civil cases.

Industry specific health and safety legislation

Updated 2020-06-19