Safety and health at the work place

Led by: Assistant prof.: Andreas Ehlers


This project concerns enterprise liability with regard to the internal relations of the enterprise. Thus, the workplace is the basis of daily life for the employees of an enterprise and recent years have seen an increasing focus on the role of the employer in the establishment not only of safety but also of health at the workplace. Moreover, due to globalisation and the CSR movement, the question of health and safety at the workplace today includes the question of possible obligations for employees with transnational subsidiaries and subcontractors. The project deals with the question of liability for industrial injuries and the interaction of compensation from public and private insurance coverage, including health insurance and the law of pensions. A basic purpose of the research project is to explore the very concept of “industrial injuries”. This requires an examination of complicated problems of causation with regard to personal injuries. The focus on health issues at the work place also raises a fundamental question of how to draw the distinction between work related “accidents” and work related “illness” with regard to the concept of industrial injuries since this distinction may have impacts on the rights to compensation. 

Theory and methodology

It is the theory of this project that the full picture of enterprise liability for health and safety at the workplace can only be drawn up by applying the various disciplines of the law and their interaction in a unifying approach. Thus, the problems will be approached from both a private law and public law perspective. Further, the examination of the topic requires that certain fundamental considerations of law and certain quasi-legal/soft law norms are taken into account. Such fundamental considerations include, for example, deterrence of harm, economic efficiency, and loss spreading. The soft law norms include norms regarding social responsibility of the enterprise (CSR) and norms on good corporate governance. These sources of law are necessary not only for finding out what the law is but also what it should be.