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Civil and criminal liability for health and safety breaches

Updating author: Howard Fidderman

XpertHR editor: Laura Merrylees


  • Employees who are injured or made ill at work may be entitled to sue their employer for compensation. (See Civil claims)
  • Employers must take out insurance to cover compensation awarded to employees in civil cases. (See Insurance)
  • Employers owe a criminal law duty to their employees to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, their health, safety and welfare. (See Criminal liability)
  • Health and safety inspectors have wide powers to enforce health and safety legislation. (See Inspectors)
  • Inspectors may serve employers with improvement notices and prohibition notices. (See Enforcement notices)
  • An employer may be prosecuted for breach of a statutory duty in the criminal courts. (See Prosecution of an employer)
  • The authorities can prosecute organisations under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. (See Corporate manslaughter)
  • An individual person may be prosecuted in the criminal courts for health and safety breaches. (See Prosecution of an individual)