The key objectives of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) are securing the health, safety and welfare of people at work and 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 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.
Every employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees, including:
The employer has an absolute duty to prepare and revise, as necessary, a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees and the organisation and arrangements for carrying out the policy. The statement and any revision of it has to be brought to the notice of all of employees.
The employer has an absolute duty to consult safety representatives regarding arrangements for enabling employee cooperation in promoting and developing and checking measures to ensure the health and safety at work of the employees.
If requested by safety representatives, to establish a safety committee to keep under review the measures taken to ensure the health and safety at work of his employees.
A visitor being shown around a site by a supervisor slipped on a patch of oil on a warehouse floor whilst taking a short cut.
The visitor was admitted to hospital where they remained for several days.
Every employer and self-employed person must conduct their business, ensuring so far as is reasonably practicable that non-employees are not harmed.
Self-employed persons are also required to protect themselves from risks to their own health and safety.
Any person who has control of work premises must take all reasonable measures to ensure that all are safe. This includes the means of access or egress or any plant or substance in the premises.
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, even if they are not an employer.
Examples of the application of this duty include:
Associated Octel Ltd maintained its plant and equipment during factory shutdown each year. In 1990, this work was carried out by Resin Glass Products (RGP) Ltd as contractors. An employee of RGP cleaning the inside of a tank was badly burned because of an explosion inside the tank.
This section places a general obligation on anyone in the supply chain, so far as reasonably practicable, for when articles or substances for use at work are being used, set, cleaned or maintained. This obligation includes providing information and instructions on safe use, including any subsequent revisions to that information and testing/examination necessary to ensure compliance.
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:
Erectors and installers must ensure that nothing about how an article intended for work is erected or installed make it unsafe or a risk to health when properly used. Examples:
Every employee has the following two duties while at work:
An employee used a forklift truck with an attached potato box to lift an apprentice electrician 4 meters high to carry out electrical repairs. Due to the instability of the potato box, the apprentice fell and punctured a lung and fractured his ribs.
In this case, the HSE prosecuted the employee and not the employer.
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, at work or members of the public.
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.
If ‘A’ commits an offence because of an act or default of ‘B’, then ‘B’ may also be charged and convicted of the offence as well as, or instead of ‘A’.
‘A’ and ‘B’ can refer to individuals or organisations.
The section also allows Crown servants, such as civil servants, to be prosecuted even though the Crown as employer is immune from prosecution.
A H&S Consultant prepared a risk assessment for a client on a woodworking machine. An employee of his client injured his hand whilst operating this machine.
The machine’s risk assessment fell significantly short of the standards required, contributing to the accident. It failed to identify the danger of the machine snatching at pieces of wood. In addition, although the H&S Consultant had many years of experience, he was not familiar with this type of machinery.
Where an offence committed by a body corporate (e.g. an organisation) is proved to have been committed with the
…of any director, manager, secretary or similar officer, that person may also be charged and convicted of the offence.
A workman fell to his death while repairing a road bridge over a river. Mr. Armour was the Director of Roads for the Regional Council. He had failed to produce a written safety policy for his department that the council had required him to.
An assistant general manager of a bookshop owned by his employers was prosecuted for a section 37 breach when serious fire safety issues were discovered on a day when he was in charge of the shop, while the general manager was away on holiday.
In this video your course tutor breaks down an open book exam question on the Health and Safety at Work Act…
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.
Click on the image to download a PDF of the Regs., the ACoP and Guidance.
Places an absolute duty (i.e. shall) on the employer (or self-employed person) to make a ‘suitable and sufficient’ assessment of the risks. This must cover risks that employees are exposed to at work and persons not in his employment are exposed to, arising out of or in connection with the work.
Employers need to introduce preventive and protective measures to control the risks identified by the risk assessment (aka: risk control measures). A set of principles to be followed in identifying the appropriate measures are set out below. Employers should use these to direct their approach to identifying and implementing control measures.
A business has had issues with people slipping on entryway steps when they get wet. They deal with the issue by placing a warning sign near the steps. This approach is not in line with the principles of prevention. Can you suggest an alternative?
The employer must implement appropriate management controls to ensure the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of all risk control measures.
This regulation basically makes it law that employers put some kind of sensible Health and Safety Management System (HSMS) in place. Element 2 of this course covers how to do this.
There is another piece of legislation that we’ve already covered that also pushes employers towards putting in place a Health & Safety Management System. However, it doesn’t use those exact words but instead talks about ‘organisation and arrangements’.
Can you identify the legislation?
Employers must have access to competent help complying with health and safety laws. In particular, they need skilled help in devising and applying risk controls unless they are capable of undertaking the measures without assistance.
When seeking competent assistance, employers should look to appoint one or more of their employees with the necessary means to provide the health and safety assistance required.
What if there is no relevant competent worker in the organisation? In that case, the employer should enlist an external service or person. In some circumstances, a combination of internal and external competence might be appropriate.
What qualities do you think someone needs to be considered competent?
The employer is required to:
The employer should provide employees with relevant, comprehensible information regarding:
Where a child is employed the information is provided to the parent or guardian.
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:
All employees are required to:
There is another piece of legislation that we’ve already covered that places legal duties on employees.
Can you identify the legislation?