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The new s 47 HSWA 1974 provides that breach of health and safety regulations will not be actionable except to the extent that new regulations provide or

It is clearly envisaged that there may be general conditions which may apply to all health and safety regulations as well as specific conditions to be inserted by way of amendment into particular regulations.

How might such a general condition look? If you go back to the Coal Mines Act 1911 there was the following provision

“The owner of a mine shall not be liable to an action for damages as for breach of statutory duty in respect of any contravention of or non-compliance with any of the provisions of this Act if it is shown that it was not reasonably practicable to avoid or prevent the breach”

(section 102 (8) Coal Mines Act 1911)

So you can easily envisage a provision to like effect requiring that contravention of or non-compliance with health and safety regulations shall not be actionable if it is shown that it was not reasonably practicable to avoid or prevent the breach.

More in due course.

[For another way of dealing with things see the Employers’ Liability Act 1880]

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