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Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – re‐invigorated

Alexandra Dobson (Newport Business School, University of Wales, Newport, UK)

International Journal of Law and Management

ISSN: 1754-243X

Article publication date: 15 March 2013




The aim of this paper is to seek to examine the operation of S.37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in the context of the debate about director's duties for health and safety. It goes on to consider whether its increased use is indicative of an inclination on the part of regulators to more readily target senior officers within companies.


This is a conceptual paper.


The section has received much attention in recent years because unlike the bulk of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 from which it derives, it imposes no positive duties. Its use arises via a secondary duty and only comes into operation following proof of organisational fault. However, this indirect duty is imposed typically against directors and the section is therefore of great interest as part of a wider debate on the imposition of liability at board level.


Drawing on an a review of leading cases and the initial findings from analysis of the response to a Freedom of Information request made to the Health and Safety Executive in February 2012, the use of the section will be placed under the spotlight and considered in the context of other linked statutes.



Dobson, A. (2013), "Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – re‐invigorated", International Journal of Law and Management, Vol. 55 No. 2, pp. 141-155.



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Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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