Registered Address: Environmental Science and Technology Ltd, 48 Thirkleby Way, York, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, YO10 3QD. Phone: +44 (0) 1904 373018 Email: info@environst.com 

Company Number: 10773337

VAT Number: 270 6099 96

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)

 

The health and Safety at work act is the key piece of legislation that puts the onus on employers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees. Under the act there are curtail sections that outline the areas that an employer must act upon. Those responsible for abiding by the act are employers, employees, the self-employed, designers, importers, manufacturers and suppliers; however, it does not apply to domestic servants or their employer. The following gives an overview of key areas of the HSWA (1974) but is not expansive, please click the following link to view the HSAW (1974) in full.

 

Section 2 – General Duties of Employers to their Employees

Section 2(1)

Under Section 2(1) of HSWA (1974) it states:

 

“It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

Under this provision, it is only required that an employer has compromised this duty for a prosecution to take place. An accident or harm to a person does not have to have taken place. A defendant must prove that they have taken all reasonably practicable steps. This also gives the employer a duty to ensure the welfare of their employees, stating that welfare must be adequate arrangements and facilities. It gives an indication of what is required under Section 3, but includes such provisions as adequate water, sanitary conveniences, washing and bathing facilities, ambulance and first aid arrangements, cloakroom accommodation, sitting facilities and refreshment facilities. These are expanded and defined in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992).

Section 2(2)

Section 2(2) of the HSAW (1974) states:

“Without prejudice to the generality of an employer’s duty under the preceding subsection, the matters to which that duty extends include in particular—

(a)the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;

(b)arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances;

(c)the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees;

(d)so far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks;

(e)the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.”

The provisions made under section two are examples of general duties and do not comprise an exhaustive list. (a), (d) and (e) concern the condition of equipment within the workplace and the condition of the physical workplace itself. This means that the workplace must be well maintained and that all entrances and exits are clear, with the environment being controlled so that it is free from health and safety hazards (as far as reasonably practicable).

Section 2(2)(a) also gives a requirement for “safe systems of work”, this requires a formal procedure that results from systematic examination of a task to identify all the hazards. It gives safe methods to ensure that hazards are eliminated or risks minimised. It must look at the physical layout of a job, sequence of work, provision of warning notices, issue of special instructions etc.

Section 2(2)(b) and 2(2)(c) give instructions with regard to storage/transport and information, instruction, training and supervision, respectively.

 

Section 2(3) – Safety Policy

A general duty is given under Section 3 for the preparation of a Health and Safety policy document for those companies with five or more employees. It states:

“Except in such cases as may be prescribed, it shall be the duty of every employer to prepare and as often as may be appropriate revise 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 the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all of his employees.”

For those companies which have less than five employees this must be communicated verbally.

 

Section 3 - General duties of employers and self-employed to persons other than their employees

Section 3 is concerned with the protection of third parties by employers and the self-employed, covering contractors at work in an employer’s premises and school children, amongst others.

“(1)It shall be the duty of every employer 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 thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.

(2)It shall be the duty of every self-employed person … to conduct … in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

This imposes a duty that employers and the self-employed not to expose non-employees to Health and Safety risks, as far as reasonably practicable. The imposed duty also means that they must provide information and instruction to those not in the employers employment where relevant.

 

Section 4 - General duties of persons concerned with premises to persons other than their employees.

Under Section 4 of the HSWA (1974), duties are imposed on those whom are responsible for non-domestic premises. It states:

“(1)This section has effect for imposing on persons duties in relation to those who—

(a)are not their employees; but

(b)use non-domestic premises made available to them as a place of work or as a place where they may use plant or substances provided for their use there, and applies to premises so made available and other non-domestic premises used in connection with them.

(2)It shall be the duty of each person who has, to any extent, control of premises to which this section applies or of the means of access thereto or egress therefrom or of any plant or substance in such premises to take such measures as it is reasonable for a person in his position to take to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the premises, all means of access thereto or egress therefrom available for use by persons using the premises, and any plant or substance in the premises or, as the case may be, provided for use there, is or are safe and without risks to health.

(3)Where a person has, by virtue of any contract or tenancy, an obligation of any extent in relation to—

(a)the maintenance or repair of any premises to which this section applies or any means of access thereto or egress therefrom; or

(b)the safety of or the absence of risks to health arising from plant or substances in any such premises; that person shall be treated, for the purposes of subsection (2) above, as being a person who has control of the matters to which his obligation extends.

(4)Any reference in this section to a person having control of any premises or matter is a reference to a person having control of the premises or matter in connection with the carrying on by him of a trade, business or other undertaking (whether for profit or not).”

The implication is, that if a business or person were to rent out part or all of their property for business purposes, then they are responsible for any plant, substance, egress or entry route, so that it does not cause risks to persons health or safety. This includes common areas of residential properties e.g. entrance halls, flights of stairs etc. that are used as places of work.

Section 5

Section 5 has been repealed and is now covered by the Environmental Protection Act (1990)

 

Section 6 - General duties of manufacturers etc. as regards articles and substances for use at work

Under Section 6, duties are imposed on those whom design, manufacture, import or supply articles for use at work. Articles or substances are defined under the Consumer Protection Act (1987). It is stated that:

“(1)It shall be the duty of any person who designs, manufactures, imports or supplies any article for use at work or any article of fairground equipment—

(a)to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the article is so designed and constructed 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;

(b)to carry out or arrange for the carrying out of such testing and examination as may be necessary for the performance of the duty imposed on him by the preceding paragraph;

(c)to take such steps as are necessary to secure that persons supplied by that person with the article are provided with adequate information about the use for which the article is designed or has been tested and about any conditions necessary to ensure that it will be safe and without risks to health at all such times as are mentioned in paragraph (a) above and when it is being dismantled or disposed of; and

(d)to take such steps as are necessary to secure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons so supplied are provided with all such revisions of information provided to them by virtue of the preceding paragraph as are necessary by reason of its becoming known that anything gives rise to a serious risk to health or safety.”

It is therefore mandatory that an item is safe, has had sufficient testing an examination to determine it’s safe, that adequate information is provided to and revisions of information provided, so that the article or substance can be dismantled or disposed of safely or that it becomes known that the article or substance poses a serious risk to health and safety.

Section 6(1A) a-d follow the same wording as above but state that “It shall be the duty of any person who designs, manufactures, imports or supplies any article of fairground equipment” only.

Section 6(2) and Section 6(3), further states:

“(2)It shall be the duty of any person who undertakes the design or manufacture of any article for use at work or of any article of fairground equipment] to carry out or arrange for the carrying out of any necessary research with a view to the discovery and, so far as is reasonably practicable, the elimination or minimisation of any risks to health or safety to which the design or article may give rise.

(3)It shall be the duty of any person who erects or installs any article for use at work in any premises where that article is to be used by persons at work or who erects or installs any article of fairground equipment] to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that nothing about the way in which the article is erected or installed makes it unsafe or a risk to health at any such time as is mentioned in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) or, as the case may be, in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) or (1A) above.”

Section 6(4) and Section 6(5) is concerned with substances for use at work. It essentially repeats the provisions in Section 6(1) and Section 6(2) but with reference to substances. It states:

 

“(4)It shall be the duty of any person who manufactures, imports or supplies any substance—

(a)to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the substance will be safe and without risks to health at all times when it is being used, handled, processed, stored or transported by a person at work or in premises to which section 4 above applies;

(b)to carry out or arrange for the carrying out of such testing and examination as may be necessary for the performance of the duty imposed on him by the preceding paragraph

(c)to take such steps as are necessary to secure that persons supplied by that person with the substance are provided with adequate information about any risks to health or safety to which the inherent properties of the substance may give rise, about the results of any relevant tests which have been carried out on or in connection with the substance and about any conditions necessary to ensure that the substance will be safe and without risks to health at all such times as are mentioned in paragraph (a) above and when the substance is being disposed of; and

(d)to take such steps as are necessary to secure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons so supplied are provided with all such revisions of information provided to them by virtue of the preceding paragraph as are necessary by reason of its becoming known that anything gives rise to a serious risk to health or safety.

(5)It shall be the duty of any person who undertakes the manufacture of any substance to carry out or arrange for the carrying out of any necessary research with a view to the discovery and, so far as is reasonable practicable, the elimination or minimisation of any risks to health or safety to which the substance may give rise [F6at all such times as are mentioned in paragraph (a) of subsection (4) above.”

The implications of Section 6 are far reaching, with criminal prosecutions possible if a designer is proved negligent under the HSWA (1974). This is also the case for importers and suppliers, with the duties to test and research a products risk to health and safety, as far as reasonably practicable. Repeat test will be required if it is reasonable to assume that an article or substances initial test are questionable or no longer valid.

 

Section 7 – General duties of employees at work.

This section is concerned with the employee and states:

“It shall be the duty of every employee while at work—

(a)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; and

(b)as regards any duty or requirement imposed on his employer or any other person by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions, to co-operate with him so far as is necessary to enable that duty or requirement to be performed or complied with."

Section 8 - Duty not to interfere with or misuse things provided pursuant to certain provisions.

This is the provision 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.”

This section means that it is an offence that must be proved by prosecution that someone interfered recklessly or intentionally with anything provided for Health Safety, or Welfare.

Section 9 - Duty not to charge employees for things done or provided pursuant to certain specific requirements.

Section 9 states:

“No employer shall levy or permit to be levied on any employee of his any charge in respect of anything done or provided in pursuance of any specific requirement of the relevant statutory provisions.”