Home / Insights / Blog / Lords defeat health and safety plan

Lords defeat health and safety plan

Lords defeat health and safety plan

Government plans to transform health and safety legislation that would make it easier for companies to fight workplace accident claims have been narrowly defeated in the House of Lords.

On Wednesday evening peers voted by 225 to 223 against the proposal that employees hurt at work would be required to prove their employer had been negligent in order to win a compensation claim.

The House of Lords initiated an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. The Government argues its plans are part of an effort to reintroduce a "common sense approach to health and safety" and cut red tape. But Labour front bench spokesman Lord McKenzie of Luton believes the plans are grounded on shaky "anecdotal" evidence.

"Anecdotal perceptions are no basis on which to change fundamental rights which have been settled for more than a century," he said.

He said the UK should be proud of its commitment to health and safety in the workplace but added that more needs to be done.

"There are still deaths and accidents at work and many are dying each year from diseases caused by prior working conditions. Compensation for them and their families is not some sort of bonus or reward and on the basis of the flimsiest of evidence, opportunities for those injured at work to attain redress is being substantially impaired," he added.

Plaid Cymru peer Lord Wigley warned the proposals would be a throwback to Victorian times.

Malcolm Underhill, Partner in IBB’s Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team commented:

"This development will come as a welcome relief to many Claimants who have suffered genuine injuries as a result of an accident in the workplace, although it is concerning that the decision was made by such a narrow majority. "There is a common perception that Health and Safety legislation has gone too far in favour of the employee, but to remove the ability to claim for breaches of statutory duty is a step too far.

"The Health and Safety system currently in place in the UK does its best to ensure that employers act appropriately to protect the safety of their workers. Without these strict controls, employers could relax their Health and Safety measures leaving employees with no cause of action. "The damages that they receive are intended to rectify the wrong that occurred as a result of the breach of duty and to put the individual in the position they would have been were it not for the accident. Should Clause 62 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill have been allowed to continue without amendment, a large number of injured employees would go uncompensated, due to the inherent difficulty in proving negligence.

"Lord Wigley notes that such a change in the legislation would turn back the time on all the good work that Health and Safety legislation has done to date and it is encouraging to see that the House of Lords have recognised this."

IBB Solicitors has built a reputation for quality of service in pursuing compensation in cases involving accident, illness or death, including accidents at work. If you would like advice on personal injury issues, contact a member of IBB's Personal Injury team: call us on 01895 207972 or email PI@ibblaw.co.uk.