Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
The key objectives of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) are:
- securing the health, safety and welfare of people at work
- protecting people other than those at work against risks to their health and safety arising out of work activities
HASAWA applies to all types of work activity and situations and imposes duties on everyone concerned with work and workplace activities, including: employers, the self-employed and employees; manufacturers, designers and suppliers; and people in control of premises.
Duties are imposed on individuals and employing organisations be they corporations, companies, charities, or government departments and are intended to encourage employers and employees to take a wide ranging view of their roles and responsibilities.
Section 2: General duties of employers to their employees
Section 3: Duties of employers and self-employed to others
Every employer and self-employed person has a duty to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment, who may be affected, are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
Self-employed persons are also required to protect themselves from risks to their own health and safety.
This section also allows for Regulations to be made requiring the employer / self-employed person to provide relevant health and safety information to non-employees.
This section was amended by the Deregulation Act 2015.
From October 1st 2015, the self-employed person’s duty to conduct his undertaking in such a way that ensures, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of persons not in his employment is not adversely affected only relates to undertakings of a ‘prescribed description’.
Prescribed activities are those involving work in:
- gas installation
- genetically modified organisms
Section 4: Duty of person in control of premises for health and safety of non-employees
Any person who has, to any extent control of:
- work premises
- the means of access or egress
- any plant or substance in such premises
Has a duty to take all reasonable measures to ensure that all are safe and without risks to health of non-employees who use non-domestic premises as a place of work or as a place where they may use plant or substances provided for their use.
The duty overlaps with the general duties of sections 2 and 3, which would take precedence when there is clearly an employer’s duty. The aim is to place a duty on whoever has the power to remedy a particular source of hazard.
Examples of the application of this duty include:
- Coin operated launderettes used by members of the public – if no one is employed there will be no employer’s duty, however the business owner would have some control of the premises and therefore have a section 4 duty
- A maintenance contractor servicing a lift in the common parts of a multi-occupied office block – if there is no obvious employer’s duty the landlord or site agent would have duties under this section
Case Study: R v Associated Octel Ltd (1994)
Section 6: Duties of designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers and installers
Any person who designs, manufactures, imports, or supplies any article or substance for use at work has duties to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- that the article or substance is safe and without risks to health when properly used
- any necessary research and testing or examination of the article or substance is properly undertaken
- adequate information is provided to ensure its safe use
Erectors and installers have a duty to ensure that nothing about the way in which an article intended for work is erected or installed makes it unsafe or a risk to health when properly used.
The Section covers:
- new and second hand articles designed for use at work (including fairground equipment), whether for sale or hire, and their component parts
- items which though capable of domestic use are designed to be used also at work (The safety of goods intended for domestic use is subject to Consumer Protection legislation)
- all substances, including micro-organisms, which are supplied to workplaces
Section 7: General Duties of Employees at Work
Every employee has the following two duties while at work:
- to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work
- to co-operate with his employer so far as is necessary to enable the employer to comply with his own duties
Section 8: Duty to not interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare
No person shall intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare whether for the protection of employees or other persons.
This duty is imposed on all people, including children, be they at work or members of the public.
Section 9: Duty of employer not to levy a charge on employees
The employer cannot charge an employee (or allow an employee to be charged) for anything done or provided to comply with health and safety legislation.
Section 36: Offences Due to Fault of Another
If person ‘A’ commits an offence because of an act or default of person ‘B’, then person ‘B’ may also be charged and convicted of the offence as well as, or instead of person ‘A’.
The section also allows Crown servants, such as civil servants, to be prosecuted even though the Crown as employer is immune from prosecution.
Case Study: HSE v Lockwood (2001)
Section 37: Offences by a Body Corporate
Where an offence committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent, connivance, or neglect of any director, manager, secretary or similar officer, the director may also be charged and convicted of the offence.
Case Study: Armour v Skeen 1977
Here’s an open book exam question on the Health and Safety at Work Act…
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (‘Management Regs.’ or MHSWR) were originally introduced in 1992 to implement the requirements of the European Framework Directive.
The ‘Management Regs.’ introduced the general requirement for risk assessment into the UK. Where other more specific legislation requires a risk assessment (e.g. CoSHH – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations) complying with the specific requirement will also fulfil the general requirement.
The requirements of the key Regulations are summarised below.
Regulation 3: Risk assessment
Places an absolute duty (i.e. shall) on the employer (or self-employed person) to make a ‘suitable and sufficient’ health and safety risk assessment of the risks that:
- employees are exposed to at work
- persons not in his employment are exposed to, arising out of or in connection with the work
For the purpose of identifying the measures needed to comply with all relevant health and safety statutory duties and / or prohibitions.
- A specific risk assessment of the risks to young persons
- Review and revision of risk assessments if the workplace changes significantly or if there are any grounds to believe it is no longer valid
- Employers with five or more employees to keep a record of the significant findings of the risk assessment
Regulation 4: Principles of prevention
Regulation 5: Health and safety arrangements
Having conducted a risk assessment and introduced risk control (preventative and protective) measures the employer is required to implement appropriate management controls to ensure the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures.
Regulation 7: Health and safety assistance
The employer is required to appoint a competent person(s) to assist in undertaking the measures necessary to comply with the requirements of the legislation.
The number of persons appointed, and the resources available (time and other means) must be adequate, for the size and hazard profile of the organisation.
Where more than one person is appointed arrangement must be made s for ensuring adequate co-operation.
Where a non-employee (e.g. consultant) is appointed the employer must provide him with relevant information required and any factors known to affect the health and safety of employees or others.
A person is regarded as competent if he has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable him to properly undertake the role.
Regulation 8: Procedures for serious and imminent danger and for danger areas
The employer is required to:
- implement appropriate procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger arising in the workplace
- appoint enough competent persons to implement evacuation procedures
- restrict access to ‘danger areas’ to those employees who have received adequate instruction and training regarding the risks and controls
Regulation 9: Information for employees
The employer should provide employees with relevant, comprehensible information regarding:
- the risks to their health and safety
- the preventive and protective measures
- the procedures for serious and imminent danger, and danger areas including the identity of the competent persons appointed for evacuation procedures
- the risks created by another employer while sharing a workplace
Where a child is employed the information is provided to the parent or guardian.
Regulation 13: Capabilities and training
An employee’s capabilities for health and safety shall be considered before the employer allocates them work.
Employees are to be provided with adequate health and safety training:
- on recruitment
- on being exposed to new or increased risks because of changes of responsibility; work equipment; new technology; or new systems of work
Regulation 14: Employees’ duties
All employees are required to:
- use any machinery, equipment, dangerous substance, transport equipment, means of production or safety device in accordance with health and safety training and instruction
- inform the employer (or employee with specific responsibility) of any work situation which represents a serious and immediate danger to health and safety and of any shortcomings in the protection arrangements for health and safety
Over the following slides, there are several previous exam questions. An exercise including examiners feedback is provided following each question.
Attempt to answer the question first on a notepad etc. before moving on to the exercise that follows each question.