S38: Health & Safety


  • Information is exempt if its disclosure under the Act would, or would be likely to:
    • endanger the physical or mental health of any individual, or
    • endanger the safety of any individual.
  • Qualified exemption, therefore consideration of the public interest test is required;
  • Duty to confirm or deny whether the information exists does not apply if this would or would be likely to endanger the physical or mental health of any individual, or the safety of any individual;
  • Not all information relating to health and safety will be information whose disclosure would endanger health and safety.
  • Important to assess the likelihood of the disclosure endangering the health or safety of an individual (note if personal information is requested this may be exempt under section 40);
  • Some information relating to health and safety is likely to be environmental information and therefore exempt under s39 of the FOI Act. If this is the case, disclosure must be considered under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 ("EIRs");

Examples of information that may fall under this exemption:

  • Information about sites of controversial scientific research which may be targets for sabotage. There may be well founded fears that if the location of such sites were disclosed to individuals or groups opposed to the research there would be risks to the physical safety of staff;
  • Names of scientists involved in controversial research (e.g. Animal testing);
  • the disclosure of sensitive or graphic information about deceased individuals (not therefore covered by the s40 personal information exemption) which could cause serious distress to particular individuals such as family members if disclosed, particularly if they were not previously aware of it;
  • Information whose disclosure might have an adverse effect on public health.

Sources of further information

More detailed guidance notes about this exemption can be found by viewing the following links: