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Health and Safety at Work 1974: 'Vintage model, in need of an overhaul'

Paper number

John Barber

March 2015

Centre of Construction Law & Dispute Resolution and Michael Brown Foundation, King's College London: Eleventh Michael Brown lecture, delivered on 4th March 2015

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is already 40 years old. In John Barber's paper (the eleventh Michael Brown lecture, presented at King's College London), he considers the background to the 1972 Robens Report, on which the 1974 Act was based; the impact of Lord Robens himself on the Report's approach; its implementation into law; the impact of disasters like Piper Alpha, of European Directives and of case law taking a wide view of the 'general duties' under the 1974 Act; and proposes a legislative overhaul.

Introduction -The Robens Report: background - Lord Robens himself - Human engineering and the role of the State - The Robens Report - Broad statements of principle - Implementation in the HSWA - The wording of the 1974 statute - The HSWA: its evolution (Impact of major disasters - Judicial interpretation - Impact of European Directives) - Codes of Practice - Sentencing policy - Challenges to the reverse burden of proof - Conclusions.

The author: John Barber MA, LLB, CEng, FICE, FCIArb is a former Director, Centre of Construction Law & Dispute Resolution, Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London.

Text: 23 pages