Criminal/Civil Law Overview (Transcript)

Consider an accident where an apprentice carpenter cuts off his fingers using an unguarded band saw. He may well take civil action against his employer, blaming the employer for negligently causing his injury (by not fitting a guard to the saw) and seeking compensation (referred to as damages) for his loss. If the civil courts found in favour of the worker, the employer would need to claim against their employer’s liability insurance for the payment of the damages.

Criminal prosecution may also be taken by an enforcing authority such as the HSE or the Local Authority. The purpose of the prosecution would be to punish the employer (through a fine and/or imprisonment) for failing to comply with health and safety legislation, (i.e., the guarding requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations – PUWER). Breaching health and safety legislation is a crime and there is no insurance against the punishment.

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