Last year we reported that health and safety experts were keeping a close eye on the European Commission’s claim against the UK Government (Case C-127/05). The Commission claimed that because Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 only requires UK employers to ensure the health and safety of their workers “so far as is reasonably practicable”, the Government was in breach of its obligations under the European Directive (89/391) which appeared to place an absolute obligation on employers. This is despite the fact that the UK has been one of the Member States with the lowest number of workplace accidents.
Earlier this year the Advocate General dismissed the Commission’s claim. His decision has now been followed by the ECJ. It held that because the Directive does not require employers to be subject to no-fault liability, the UK had not failed to fulfil its obligations by restricting the duty on employers in the way that it had. Phew.