Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 sets out the duty of employers to protect not only their own employees but also “persons not in their employment” who may be present at their workplace. This duty applies to anyone who may be affected by the employer’s work activities, including visitors, contractors, customers, and members of the public.
The duty to protect these persons, not in their employment, requires employers to identify any hazards that may pose a risk to their safety or health and take reasonable steps to control or eliminate them. This includes ensuring that the workplace is maintained correctly.
Employers must also ensure that any work being carried out by their employees does not pose a risk to persons not in their employment. This may involve putting up warning signs or barriers.
In addition, employers must provide information and instruction to persons outside of their employment who may be present at their workplace. This includes informing them of any potential hazards or risks and any safety procedures they must follow while on the premises.
Overall, the duty to protect persons, not in their employment, is an essential aspect of health and safety legislation. Therefore, employers must take it seriously to ensure the safety and well-being of all those affected by their work activities.
There have been several real-life cases where employers have been prosecuted under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Here are a few examples:
- Newcastle City Council – fined £280,000 after the death of a six-year-old girl hit by a falling tree in her school playground. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the tree had decayed and was in poor condition. Newcastle City Council had failed to identify the extent of the decay or to manage the risk posed by the tree.
- Tesco – fined £733,000 after a member of the public slipped on a wet floor and suffered a head injury at a store in Hertfordshire. The company had breached Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its customers.
These cases demonstrate Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is taken seriously by the courts. Employers can face significant fines and other penalties if they fail to protect persons not in their employment while at their workplace.