In summary, the Health and Safety at Work Act outlines the legal duties that employers have to protect the health, safety and welfare at work of all of their employees. This also extends to other people visiting the workplace premises such as temporary workers, casual workers, self-employed workers, clients, visitors and the general public. The Act provides the framework that allows the government to issue health and safety-related regulations, guidance to employers, and Approved Codes of Practice. These all set out in more detail the specific responsibilities pertaining to employers in different areas concerning health and safety, for example, working with hazardous chemicals, or working with display screens. The HSE also enforces the penalties which can be given should employers not meet their responsibilities. The Health and Safety at Work Act covers a huge amount and many different facets.
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The Health and Safety at Work etc. The Act defines general duties on employers , employees , contractors , suppliers of goods and substances for use at work, persons in control of work premises, and those who manage and maintain them, and persons in general.
The Act enables a broad regime of regulation by government ministers through Statutory Instrument which has, in the years since , generated an extensive system of specific provisions for various industries, disciplines and risks.
It established a system of public supervision through the creation of the Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive , since merged, and bestows extensive enforcement powers, ultimately backed by criminal sanctions extending to unlimited fines and imprisonment for up to two years.
Further, the Act provides a critical interface with the law of the European Union on workplace health and safety. Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity Barbara Castle introduced an Employed Persons Health and Safety Bill in  but the debate around the Bill soon generated a belief that it did not address fundamental issues of workplace safety.
As a result, a committee of inquiry chaired by Lord Robens was established towards the end of Harold Wilson's first government. When the Conservative Party came to power following the United Kingdom general election , they gave Castle's Bill no parliamentary time, preferring to wait for the Robens Report which was published in The Act lays down general principles for the management of health and safety at work, enabling the creation of specific requirements through regulations enacted as Statutory Instruments or through a code of practice.
It was also the intention of the Act to rationalise the existing complex and confused system of legislation section 1 2. Since the accession of the UK to the European Union EU in , much health and safety regulation has needed to comply with the law of the European Union and Statutory Instruments under the Act have been enacted in order to implement EU directives. In general, the other provisions about emissions in the original Act have subsequently been repealed.
Section 3 states the duty of all employers and self-employed persons to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable the safety of persons other than employees, for example, contractors, visitors, the general public and clients. Employers must also prepare and keep under review a safety policy and to bring it to the attention of his employees s.
Trade unions may appoint safety representatives and demand safety committees. The representatives have a right to be consulted on safety issues ss. Since employers have had a duty to consult all employees on safety matters. The Act does not apply to domestic servants s. Section 4 defines a duty of occupiers of premises, for example commercial landlords , managers of serviced office accommodation, and also maintenance contractors, towards people who use those premises for work.
Those premises, and the means of entry and exit, must be, as far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health. Section 6 1 defines the duty of any person who designs , manufactures , imports or supplies any article for use at work to:. A person may rely on testing done by others so long as it is reasonable for him to do so s.
A person may rely on a written undertaking by another person to ensure the safety of an item s. Erectors and installers have responsibilities to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that an article is so erected and installed that it will be safe and without risks to health at all times when it is being set, used, cleaned or maintained by a person at work s.
Section 6 was extended by the Consumer Protection Act to cover fairground equipment and its use by persons at work and enjoyment by members of the public. Section 6 4 defines the duty of any person who manufactures, imports or supplies any substance for use at work to:. Similar to the regulations concerning articles used at work, a person may also rely on testing or written undertaking by another person to ensure the safety of substances used at work.
The duty to identify and eliminate risks of substances rests with manufacturers. The duties only extend to persons in business or acting by way of trade , even though not for profit , and only to matters within their control s. Persons who import into the UK are not relieved of liability for activities such as design and manufacture that took place outside the UK and over which they had control.
Section 8 requires that "no person shall intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare in pursuance of any of the relevant statutory provisions. What is reasonably practicable is a question of fact. The Court of Appeal held in that  . The greater the risk, no doubt, the less will be the weight to be given to the factor of cost.
Reasonably practicable is a narrower term than 'physically possible' and seems to me to imply that a computation must be made by the owner in which the quantum of risk is placed on one scale and the sacrifice involved in the measures necessary for averting the risk whether in money, time or trouble is placed in the other, and that, if it be shown that there is a gross disproportion between them — the risk being insignificant in relation to the sacrifice — the defendants discharge the onus on them.
Where a criminal prosecution arises from a breach of duty and the accused's defence is that it would not have been practicable or reasonably practicable to act otherwise, the burden of proof falls on the defendant s.
The prosecution have the burden of showing beyond reasonable doubt that certain acts were done or omitted to provide a prima facie case against the accused. Only if the prosecution succeed in this does the defendant have the burden of proving that the alternative was not practicable or reasonable practicable, but only on the balance of probabilities.
The Court of Appeal noted that the "reverse burden" applied to purely regulatory breaches, rather than genuine criminal offences potentially punishable by imprisonment. Before it was passed, the Department for Work and Pensions expressed the opinion that this is still compliant with the ECHR as it "strikes a fair balance between the fundamental right of the individual and the general interests of the community".
The Commission argued that the "reasonably practicable" defence was much broader than allowed under the directive but in the European Court of Justice found for the UK that the defence was in fact compliant. Section 6 10 was added by the Consumer Protection Act  disapplies duties as to articles and substances used at work where a risk "is shown to be one the occurrence of which could not reasonably be foreseen ".
This is known as the development risks defence. Section 10 created two bodies corporate , the Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive , who performed their respective functions on behalf of the Crown section 10 and Schedule 2.
The bodies had wide powers to further their objectives by all means other than borrowing money ss. On 1 April , the two bodies merged, the aggregate taking the name Health and Safety Executive. Before its merger with the HSE, the Commission consisted of a chairman and between six and nine other people, appointed by the appropriate Secretary of State, after consultation section 10 2 - 4. The Commission's duties were to section 11 2 :.
The Commission further had to keep the Secretary of State informed of its plans and ensure alignment with the policies of the Secretary of State, giving effect to any directions given to it section 11 3. The Secretary of State could give directions to the Commission section On 1 April , the Commission ceased to have responsibility for railway safety.
However, as of 1 April , all its powers and responsibilities were transferred to the Executive. The Executive consists of a chairman and between 7 and 11 other people, all appointed by the Secretary of State, as of [update] , the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Schedule 2. Before the merger, the Executive had to carry out all functions delegated to it, or otherwise directed by, the Commission and provide the Secretary of State with information and expert advice section 11 5.
The Executive is responsible for enforcement of the Act and regulations made under it though the Secretary of State may transfer some of the duties to local government section The Secretary of State has broad powers to make health and safety regulations section Breach of regulations can lead to criminal prosecution under section Further, the Health and Safety Executive can issue codes of practice section Though breach of a code of practice is not in itself a criminal offence it may be evidential towards a criminal breach under the Act section Because individual litigation is unlikely, given that employees may find the regulations complex, the Health and Safety Executive enforces the Act.
However, the HSE may also delegate its functions to local government under section 18, which allows for a more decentralised and targeted approach to regulation. Any enforcing authority may appoint inspectors with a written document stating their powers.
This is as evidence of their authority section Enforcing authorities may indemnify the inspector against any civil litigation if he has acted in the honest belief that he was within his powers section Local government bodies who may be enforcing authorities are: .
Local government bodies can be enforcing authorities in respect of several workplaces and activities including offices , shops , retail and wholesale distribution, hotel and catering establishments, petrol filling stations , residential care homes and the leisure industry. Act and laws made under it, for all health and safety matters relating to the operation of a railway or tramway.
The Consumer Protection Act added the power for a customs officer to seize imported goods for up to 48 hours section 25A. In observance of the principle of a right to silence , answers given to questions that the inspector required a person to answer cannot be used as evidence against him, nor his spouse or civil partner section 20 7 , neither can the inspector require production of a document protected by legal professional privilege section 20 8.
If an inspector is of the opinion that a person section 21 is currently contravening the Act; or has contravened the Act in the past in circumstances that make it likely that the contravention will continue or be repeated he may serve him with an improvement notice : . Appeal against a notice is within 21 days to an employment tribunal who may appoint one or more assessors to sit with them s.
If an inspector is of the opinion that activities are being carried on, or are likely to be carried on, involving the risk of serious personal injury , he may serve him with a prohibition notice section 22 : .
The notice may start immediately or at the end of a specified period section 22 4. Appeal against a notice is within 21 days to an employment tribunal who may appoint one or more assessors to sit with them section Section 33 1 creates 15 criminal offences including breach of a duty under the Act or a regulation, contravention of a notice, or obstructing an inspector. In England and Wales prosecution under the Act could originally only be brought by an inspector or with the permission of the Director of Public Prosecutions but the Environment Agency was also authorised on 1 April section If a person, by some act or omission, causes another person to commit the actus reus of an offence under the Act then they too are guilty of an offence, even if the other person was not prosecuted or could not be prosecuted because they were the Crown section Where an offence is committed by a body corporate with the consent or connivance, or by the neglect, of a director , manager , secretary or a member acting in a managerial capacity, that individual too is guilty of an offence section Where a person is convicted under the Act, the court can order that he remedy the state of affairs or can order forfeiture of an item in question section There is no civil liability for breach of statutory duty in respect of sections 2 to 8 but there is liability for breach of health and safety regulations unless the regulations themselves provide otherwise section However, a breach not actionable in itself may be evidential towards a claim for common law negligence.
In particular, a criminal conviction may be given in evidence. The Crown is bound by health and safety regulations and by the Act itself save for section 48 :. In , the Crown Proceedings Act was repealed to allow military personnel to sue the Ministry of Defence and bring the Armed Services into line with the Act.
Sections 55 to 60 provide for the continued existence of the Employment Medical Advisory Service in England and Wales. Sections 61 to 76 originally enabled the HSE to create and amend building regulations and gave them other powers over buildings control and approval. These sections were repealed by the Building Act which replaced them by a general scheme of building regulations.
Its provisions were re-enacted for Northern Ireland in with enforcement made the responsibility of the Health and Safety Agency for Northern Ireland. In , the provisions were extended to offshore installations , wells and pipelines in UK territorial waters , mines extending into territorial waters and certain other engineering activities in territorial waters.
Activities on a ship under the direction of its master are excluded. Reviewing performance of the act in Lord Grocott observed: . Between and , the number of fatal injuries to employees fell by 73 per cent; the number of reported non-fatal injuries fell by 70 per cent. Between and , the rate of injuries per , employees fell by a huge 76 per cent, and Britain had the lowest rate of fatal injuries in the European Union in , which is the most recent year for which figures are available.
The EU average was 2. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. United Kingdom legislation. Parliament of the United Kingdom. Main article: Health and Safety Commission.
Main article: Health and Safety Executive.
Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
The Health and Safety at Work etc. The Act defines general duties on employers , employees , contractors , suppliers of goods and substances for use at work, persons in control of work premises, and those who manage and maintain them, and persons in general. The Act enables a broad regime of regulation by government ministers through Statutory Instrument which has, in the years since , generated an extensive system of specific provisions for various industries, disciplines and risks. It established a system of public supervision through the creation of the Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive , since merged, and bestows extensive enforcement powers, ultimately backed by criminal sanctions extending to unlimited fines and imprisonment for up to two years. Further, the Act provides a critical interface with the law of the European Union on workplace health and safety. Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity Barbara Castle introduced an Employed Persons Health and Safety Bill in  but the debate around the Bill soon generated a belief that it did not address fundamental issues of workplace safety. As a result, a committee of inquiry chaired by Lord Robens was established towards the end of Harold Wilson's first government.
Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
There are many things you need to know when you are running an office or other type of business environment. A part of this is Health and Safety. But what exactly do you need to know for this? As you can see there is lots that you have to know about, so we have split them up into multiple posts. The first piece of legislation is the Health and Safety at Work Act HASAWA , this Act sets out guidelines for safe working practices which then enables businesses to set out their own working practices in line with these. There are 84 sections of the Act 1 which should be abided by. We'll only take a look at a few sections as these are the most relevant for an office environment.
What is the Health and Safety at Work Act?