• The recent unfortunate events at Alton Towers have once again highlighted the fact that well run and reputable businesses can quickly find themselves subject to an investigation by the Health and Safety executive. It is also a reminder that the Health and Safety at Work Act does not just apply to employers and employees. Members of the public also receive protection from the law.

    Section 3 of the Act imposes a duty on an employer to

    “. . . conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety”

    The Health and Safety Executive produces guidance for a number of sectors, including the entertainment and leisure industry.

    This guidance explains that:

    “Fairground and theme park controllers have a responsibility for the health and safety of non-employees, eg: members of the public; self-employed workers or contractors; volunteer workers; and others who may be involved in the activities of the fairground and theme park.”

    Whilst construction, engineering and agriculture are generally regarded as higher-risk industries it is necessary to ensure that Health and Safety is taken seriously whatever sector you operate in.

    Those with responsibility under the Act should also be aware new sentencing guidelines for Health and Safety offences are likely to come into effect by the end of the year. Once adopted the guidelines will be used by courts when deciding the penalty to be imposed on businesses and individuals convicted of offences. Fines for Health and Safety offences have been criticised as too lenient and the indications are that the guidance will lead to tougher penalties.

    As recent events have shown, even good businesses can find themselves in the spotlight and the new tougher regime will act as an additional incentive to stay on the right side of the law. Brachers are Health and Safety specialists and can advise on how to reduce the impact of potential litigation on your business and reputation.

    Lee May is an Associate in the Commercial Property Team at Brachers. Please contact Lee May for more information on leemay@brachers.co.uk or on 01622 680431.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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