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What are the main Health and Safety at work laws?

November 15, 2016,
Andrew Gray,

In January 1992, six Regulations on Health and Safety at work were introduced, commonly referred to as the “Six-Pack Regulations”. The Regulations provide more detail about what a responsible employer should be doing in order to comply with the requirements of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

The main set of regulations is the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, also known as the ‘Management Regs’. Regulation 3, which places a legal duty on employers to carry out a risk assessment, as a first step in ensuring a safe workplace, lies at the heart of the modern approach to health and safety at work.

Other ‘Six-Pack’ Regulations cover heating, lighting and ventilation at work, the safe use of computer screens and keyboards, handling heavy or awkward loads, rest breaks, and personal protective equipment.

The most important Regulations governing personal injury work are as follows:

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992;
  • The Workplace (Health, Safety, Welfare) Regulations 1992;
  • The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992;
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations;
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992.

A brief overview of the Regulations is provided below:

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations

Risk Assessments

Regulation 3 (1) states that every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of:

(a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and

(b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking, for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions.

Regulation 3 (2) states that every self-employed person shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of:

(a) the risks to his own health and safety to which he is exposed whilst he is at work; and

(b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of, or in connection with, the conduct by him of his undertaking, for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions.

Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations

The employer must ensure that the work equipment is suitable for the purpose intended, taking into account the nature of the work, working conditions and risks in their workplace.  They also must ensure that the equipment is maintained.

Regulation 5 (1) states that every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

Regulation 5 (2) states that every employer shall ensure that where any machinery has a maintenance log, the log is kept up to date.

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations

The employer must ensure that the workplace and equipment must be maintained in good condition. Where appropriate, there must be a planned system of regular maintenance.

Below is an overview of the most important Regulations that we come across the most frequently:

Ventilation: Regulation 6 states that an effective and suitable provision should be made to ensure that every enclosed workplace is ventilated by a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air.

Lighting: Regulation 8 states that every workplace should have suitable and sufficient lighting and this should be as far as reasonably practicable, natural light.

Cleanliness and waste materials: Regulation 9 states that every workplace and the furniture, furnishings and fittings therein shall be kept sufficiently clean and the surfaces of the floors, walls and ceilings of all workplaces inside buildings shall be capable of being kept sufficiently clean and, so far as is reasonably practicable, waste materials should not be allowed to accumulate in a workplace except in suitable receptacles.

Room dimensions and space: Regulation 10 states that every room where persons work shall have a sufficient floor area, height and unoccupied space for purposes of health, safety and welfare.

Workstations and seating: Regulation 11 states that every workstation shall be so arranged that it is suitable both for any person at work in the workplace who is likely to work at that workstation and for any work of the undertaking which is likely to be done there. Every workstation outdoors shall be arranged so that it provides protection from adverse weather; it enables any person at the workstation to leave it swiftly or, as appropriate, to be assisted in the event of an emergency; and it ensures that any person at the workstation is not likely to slip or fall.

Furthermore, Regulation 11 (3) states that a suitable seat shall be provided for each person at work in the workplace whose work includes operations of a kind that the work (or a substantial part of it) can or must be done sitting.

Condition of floors and traffic routes: Regulation 12 states that every floor in a workplace and the surface of every traffic route in a workplace shall be of a construction such that the floor or surface of the traffic route is suitable for the purpose for which it is used. The floor, or surface of the traffic route, shall have no hole or slope, or be uneven or slippery so as, in each case, to expose any person to a risk to his health or safety. Every floor should have an effective means of drainage where necessary. So far as is reasonably practicable, every floor in a workplace and the surface of every traffic route in a workplace shall be kept free from obstructions and from any article or substance which may cause a person to slip, trip or fall.

Furthermore, suitable and sufficient handrails and, if appropriate, guards shall be provided on all traffic routes which are staircases except in circumstances in which a handrail cannot be provided without obstructing the traffic route.

Falls or falling objects: Regulation 13 states that so far as is reasonably practicable, suitable and effective measures shall be taken to prevent any person falling a distance likely to cause personal injury, or any person being struck by a falling object likely to cause personal injury.

Windows, and transparent or translucent doors, gates and walls: Regulation 14 states that every window or other transparent or translucent surface in a wall or partition and every transparent or translucent surface in a door or gate shall, where necessary for reasons of health or safety, should be of safety material or be protected against breakage of the transparent or translucent material and be appropriately marked or incorporate features so as to make it apparent.

Windows, skylights and ventilators: Regulation 15 states that no window, skylight or ventilator which is capable of being opened shall be likely to be opened, closed or adjusted in a manner which exposes any person performing such operation to a risk to his health or safety.

Doors and gates: Regulation 18 states that doors and gates shall be suitably constructed (including being fitted with any necessary safety devices).

Regulation 18 (2) states that without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (1), doors and gates shall not comply with that paragraph unless—

(a)any sliding door or gate has a device to prevent it coming off its track during use;

(b)any upward opening door or gate has a device to prevent it falling back;

(c)any powered door or gate has suitable and effective features to prevent it causing injury by trapping any person;

(d)where necessary for reasons of health or safety, any powered door or gate can be operated manually unless it opens automatically if the power fails; and

(e)any door or gate which is capable of opening by being pushed from either side is of such a construction as to provide, when closed, a clear view of the space close to both sides.

Escalators and moving walkways: Regulation 19 states that escalators and moving walkways shall (a)function safely; (b)be equipped with any necessary safety devices; and (c)be fitted with one or more emergency stop controls which are easily identifiable and readily accessible.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations

The employer must provide suitable PPE when the risk cannot be controlled by other means.

Provision of personal protective equipment

Regulation 1) Every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety;

Regulation 2) Every self-employed person shall ensure that he is provided with suitable personal protective equipment where he may be exposed to a risk to his health or safety while at work;

Regulation 3) Personal protective equipment shall not be suitable unless—

(a) it is appropriate for the risk or risks involved and the conditions at the place where exposure to the risk may occur;

(b) it takes account of ergonomic requirements and the state of health of the person or persons who may wear it;

(c) it is capable of fitting the wearer correctly, if necessary, after adjustments within the range for which it is designed;

(d) so far as is practicable, it is effective to prevent or adequately control the risk or risks involved without increasing overall risk;

(e) it complies with any enactment (whether in an Act or instrument) which implements in Great Britain any provision on design or manufacture with respect to health or safety in any relevant Community directive listed in Schedule 1 which is applicable to that item of personal protective equipment.

Regulation 4) (1) states that every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.

Regulation 4 (2) states that every self-employed person shall ensure that he is provided with suitable personal protective equipment where he may be exposed to a risk to his health or safety while at work except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.

Regulation 4 (3) states that without prejudice to the generality of paragraphs (1) and (2), personal protective equipment shall not be suitable unless—

(a) it is appropriate for the risk or risks involved and the conditions at the place where exposure to the risk may occur;

(b) it takes account of ergonomic requirements and the state of health of the person or persons who may wear it;

(c) it is capable of fitting the wearer correctly, if necessary, after adjustments within the range for which it is designed;

(d) so far as is practicable, it is effective to prevent or adequately control the risk or risks involved without increasing overall risk;

(e) it complies with any enactment (whether in an Act or instrument) which implements in Great Britain any provision on design or manufacture with respect to health or safety in any relevant Community directive listed in Schedule 1 which is applicable to that item of personal protective equipment.

Regulation 5) Compatibility of personal protective equipment

Regulation 5 (1) states that every employer shall ensure that where the presence of more than one risk to health or safety makes it necessary for his employee to wear or use simultaneously more than one item of personal protective equipment, such equipment is compatible and continues to be effective against the risk or risks in question.

Regulation (2) states that every self-employed person shall ensure that where the presence of more than one risk to health or safety makes it necessary for him to wear or use simultaneously more than one item of personal protective equipment, such equipment is compatible and continues to be effective against the risk or risks in question.

Manual Handling Operations Regulations

The employer must avoid the need for workers to do any manual handling task which involves a risk of injury.

When this cannot be done, the employer must assess the task, taking into account the range of risk factors specified in the Regulations.

The employer must reduce the risk involved to the lowest reasonably practicable level.

The employer must provide workers with general indications of the risks and, where possible, specific information on the weight of each load and the heaviest side of a load with an off-centred centre of gravity.

Employees must make full and proper use of systems of work provided by the employer.

Regulation 4 (1) states that employers must:

  • avoid hazardous manual handling operations so far as reasonably practicable;
  • assess any hazardous manual handling operations that cannot be avoided;
  • reduce the risk of injury so far as reasonably practicable.

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Andrew Gray

Andrew Gray

I launched Truth Legal in 2012 to provide the most caring, ethical and brilliant personal injury law representation. Usually personal injury claims are a good thing, modifying negligent behaviour, shifting the financial burden off the state and reducing future injuries. I also represent people who have been poorly treated at work. I’m proud that my team give away countless hours of free legal advice.

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