EU High Court Upholds Britain’s Workplace Safety Law

June 15, 2007

The European Court of Justice has upheld Britain’s workplace safety law, dismissing a legal claim by the European Commission that it violated EU rules.

Under EU law, employers must ensure a safe and healthy workplace for their workers; that responsibilityis limited only in cases of “unusual and unforeseeable” circumstances that have unavoidable consequences. British law requires employers to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of employees “so far as is reasonably practicable.”

In a case before the EU high court, the EU executive argued the British law lets employers off the hook if they can simply prove that providing safe working conditions is too costly or too cumbersome.

The EU Court of Justice disagreed with the interpretation by the EU executive and said it had failed to prove the British law falls short of the EU rules that take precedence across the 27-nation bloc.

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