UK: Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Last Updated: 15 November 2005
Article by Mark Tyler and Suzie Lyons

The recent decision in the case of Donaldson v Hays Distribution Services Ltd [2005] SLT 733 established that the duties owed in the workplace under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 apply only to workers and not to visitors in the workplace.

The court held that the Workplace Regulations 1992 had been enacted in order to implement the Workplace Directive 89/654/EEC in the UK. The Directive applied exclusively to the protection of workers and as there was no positive indication in the legislation that the 1992 Regulations were to apply more widely, the court dismissed the Pursuer’s (claimant’s) argument that the duties owed under the 1992 Regulations also extended to visitors.

To view the article in full, please see below:

Full Article

Donaldson v Hays Distribution Services Ltd [2005] SLT 733

The facts

The Pursuer (claimant) was a customer at a shopping centre where she was crushed against a wall of a loading bay by a lorry. The claimant brought an action of damages for the injuries she sustained as a result of the accident. The claimant’s cause of action against the Second and Third Defenders, who were alleged to have been in control of the loading bay, was that they breached the requirements imposed by Regulations 17(1) and 17(2) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which were enacted in the UK in order to implement the EU Workplace Directive.

These Regulations require that (1) every workplace should be organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner and (2) that traffic routes in a workplace should be suitable for the persons or vehicles using them. The advantage to the claimant in replying on them was that the defender would be strictly liable for injury resulting from any breach.

At first instance, the Lord Ordinary dismissed the action.

The claimant’s arguments

In essence, the claimant argued that the 1992 Regulations applied not only to workers but also to persons who were present in the workplace but who did not work there. The claimant’s main arguments were:

  • that the words "pedestrians" and "persons" used in Regulations 17(1) and 17(2) should be given their ordinary meaning as opposed to being construed as only referring to workers.
  • that some regulations referred specifically to "workers" whereas others only referred to "persons" or "pedestrians". According to the claimant, this showed that for those regulations which only referred to "persons" or "pedestrians", Parliament was refusing to distinguish between workers and other persons present in the workplace.
  • that although it may be necessary to adopt a purposive approach when interpreting domestic legislation implementing a European directive, nothing prevents domestic legislation from going beyond the scope of a directive.

The Second and Third Defenders’ arguments

The Second and Third Defenders’ maintained that the duties imposed by the 1992 Regulations applied only to workers. They argued:

  • that it was clear from the Regulations that it was the use of premises by workers that triggered the duties under the Regulations. The presence of non-workers in the workplace was irrelevant and had no influence on whether any duties arose under the Regulations.
  • that the aim of the 1992 Regulations was to implement the EU Workplace Directive in the UK, the aim of which was to afford protection to workers. Although it was possible for the UK Parliament to give a wider scope to the 1992 Regulations than the one envisaged in the Workplace Directive, Parliament would have to make clear indications to that effect in the Regulations. As there were no such indications in the 1992 Regulations, it could not be inferred that the 1992 Regulations applied to workers as well as to visitors in the workplace.
  • that if the 1992 Regulations were to be construed as suggested by the claimant, this would in effect constitute a dramatic change in the law as it would extend the benefit of the strict liability duties imposed on employers to visitors in the workplace.

The appeal

The Inner House (the appeal court of the Scottish Court of Session) dismissed the claimant’s arguments and held that the 1992 Regulations only applied for the benefit of people at work in the workplace.

The court accepted that it was open to Parliament to extend the scope of the 1992 Regulations beyond what was contemplated in the EU Workplace Directive. Although the 1992 Regulations were made under section 15(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations to protect "persons other than persons at work" in the workplace, there was no clear positive indication in the 1992 Regulations that the Secretary of State wanted to extend the scope of the 1992 Regulations beyond what had been contemplated in the Workplace Directive.

Further, the court held that the wording of each regulation was dictated by the duty it sought to create as opposed to the identity of the people for whose benefit the regulation was made. The court therefore concluded that the fact that the Regulations referred to the people they sought to protect in a variety of forms did not mean that they applied for the benefit of people other than workers.

Finally, the court held that if the 1992 Regulations were to be construed in the manner suggested by the claimant, this would constitute a considerable change in the law as it would render much of the law relating to occupiers’ liability redundant. These replace occupiers’ duties of reasonable care towards visitors with a strict liability duty would have a considerable impact on commercial enterprises and their insurers.

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 14/11/2005.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.