Off-site dangers from workplaces and the meaning of "risk"

The Court of Appeal has emphasised that the primary duties on employers under health and safety legislation apply to potential risks to the public, and that it is not necessary for the prosecution to show that actual harm had occurred. Its decision reinforces the preventative nature of the controls, and may have significant implications for the interpretation of environmental legislation as well.

Regina v Board of Trustees of the Science Museum (Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, Times Law Reports, 9 March) was an appeal by the defendants against a conviction at Knightsbridge Crown Court in 1990 under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The prosecution had alleged that the defendants had failed to maintain their air conditioning system adequately, and as a consequence had exposed members of the public outside t

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