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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.

September 7, 2015

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SARAH Takes Away the Worry

In April the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015 – ‘SARAH’ – came in to force in England and Wales. This new law aims to provide legal reassurance that the courts will take into account the fact that volunteers, community groups and ‘good deed doers’ were acting to help society, should they have to defend themselves against legal action.

The changes have been designed to help people who step in heroically to help in dangerous circumstances, following concerns that people were put off from doing simple good deeds for fear of being sued should something go wrong.

Jonathan Hughes, head of health and safety training and litigation at Capita’s property and infrastructure business, said: “We welcome the introduction of this law. We deliver first aid training courses throughout the UK and we often hear delegates say they’re afraid to provide CPR, for example, in case they break the casualty’s ribs and they subsequently get sued. Four months on, however, we now see that people are more reassured.”

The new law means judges must consider three additional factors when assessing liability in a negligence claim:

  • If the person being sued was doing something for ‘the benefit of society’
  • If they had been acting in a ‘predominantly responsible way’
  • If they were ‘intervening in an emergency’

Jonathan added: “We’ve all heard the extreme risk averse stories where people or organisations were too scared of being sued to hold events or activities, like fireworks on Bonfire Night, or have stopped doing everyday tasks such as clearing snow from paths. Hopefully SARAH can help people realise that applying common sense to situations where health and safety is involved is a really good place to start, and that any fear of doing the wrong thing will be replaced with the thought of doing the right thing instead.”

The 24th annual Capita Safety lecture takes place on Wednesday 14th October at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. We have ten places available for SHP readers. For further information please contact [email protected] or visit

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