Model Rosie Nelson from Sandhurst, is submitting a petition signed by 100,000 people to Downing Street calling for better healthcare in the modelling industry. Rosie had been asked to slim “down to the bone” by a modelling agency and there are pictures of her looking “unhealthily thin” in recent press coverage. Over-slimming clearly raises health issues, both physical and psychological, some of which can have life-long detrimental implications. 

Specific legislation already exists in France and Italy, with France creating rules about a minimum body mass index (BMI) for models and Italy requiring health certificates. Rosie’s petition raises the possibility of industry-specific legislation in the UK and the Government is to hold a parliamentary inquiry into modelling and health and safety issues. 

In fact, legislation in the UK already exists to safeguard employees from the risks of injury and illness at work, and the legislation applies to the modelling industry just as much as it applies to factory workers or construction workers. Regulation 6 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations requires employers to carry out health surveillance, and Regulation 3 requires work-specific risk assessments  of employees’ health. Regulation 10(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations requires employers to provide employees with relevant information about the risks to his or her health and safety. 

In the US, the NFL has already made a $765 million out of court settlement with 4,500 American football players who sought compensation from the NFL accusing it of hiding research that had shown the harmful effects of concussions, while glorifying and promoting violent play. There is reason to question whether the modelling industry has undertaken any research into the physical and psychological effects of over-slimming amongst models and, if this research (call it ‘risk assessments’ if you like) has not been carried out by the industry, why not? The failure not to do so would be a breach of existing health and safety legislation. 

The Penningtons Manches personal injury team has several specialists in claims arising out of breaches of health and safety at work. We work with clients who have suffered serious injury or debilitating conditions to obtain funding and make provision for their therapy, long term care and financial support needs.