Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. No escape for the practitionerOn 1 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Who would have thought that human rights could apply to health and safety?But it does, and firmly so since 1 October last year. From that date theEuropean Convention on Human Rights has been legally enforceable in UK courts.Although UK citizens have been able to use the Convention since 1950, this waspreviously only possible by making a costly legal trip to the continent to theEuropean Court of Human Rights. Those in Scotland have been able to enforce the Act for longer as it wasintroduced into Scottish law over a year earlier, meaning that developments inthe Scottish courts have been watched with keen interest south of the border. Now that it is easier to use the Convention, lawyers are applying it morevigorously across many areas of the law and health and safety will be noexception. One scenario, recently highlighted, suggested that if an employerrequired a Sikh employee to shave off his beard so that he could wear closefitting facial respiratory equipment it would be breaching the Convention.There are, of course, other means that could be used to protect beardedemployees which would get round the problem, but it still raises an interestingpoint. The introduction of the Convention into UK law means that it would now befar easier for the individuals to take their case to court on human rightsgrounds. Practitioners need to have full knowledge of the impact this change inthe law will have, which is why the IOSH conference next month is concentratingon this issue. The first successful safety case in this area is eagerly awaited, butpractitioners would be advised to take this opportunity to acquire first handknowledge of this important legal development, so they don’t get caught out.