Health and Safety legislation is perceived to be complex and difficult to understand. However, in actual fact, a large proportion is common sense and it is only important to understand the areas that apply to your organisation.
There are two types of legislation - Criminal and Civil.
What is criminal legislation?
This allows the state to punish a business/person for breaking the law or the land. The venue for the case would be a Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court in England and Wales. In Scotland, a Sheriff Court or High Court would deal with the majority of cases and in Ireland, these would be held in the Circuit Court or the Circuit Criminal Court.
What is civil legislation?
This allows an action from one person against another for negligence. The purpose of this is to claim compensation. The venue for the case would be a County Court or High Court in England and Wales, In Scotland, this would be a Sheriff Court or Court of Session and in Ireland, the
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
This law places duties on employers, employees, designers and manufacturers, some
self-employed and the occupiers of buildings in which persons work.
Health and Safety Policy
It is the duty of every employer to prepare and regularly revise a written statement of the health and safety policy. The essential elements of this policy are:
- A statement of intent
- Organisation - to clearly state to people their duties and accountability
- Arrangements - systems/procedures that ensure that work is carried out safely
- Ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- The health, safety and welfare of all employees
- Provide necessary information, instruction, training and supervision
- Provide a safe place of work including access and egress
- Provide a safe environment and safe systems of work
- The safe use, handling, storage and transport or articles and substances
- Ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of others - this includes visitors, contractors, customers and patients
Employers must also:
- Carry out risk assessments
- Appoint competent persons
- Plan, organise, control, monitor and review preventive and protective measures
- Take reasonable care of themselves and others, and co-operate with their employer
- Not recklessly interfere with or misuse anything that is used for health and safety provision
- Report any serious or imminent danger and any shortcomings in the employer’s protective health and safety arrangements
- Enforcement of health and safety law
Enforcement will be carried out either by the HSE or the relevant local authority depending upon the nature of the workplace. The HSE inspectors are generally responsible for schools, factories, hospitals etc., while authorised officers from local authority are responsible for shops, offices and warehouses, etc.
- Gain access to any workplace at any reasonable time
- Direct that locations remain undisturbed after an accident
- Ask questions and give advice
- Take measurements, photographs and samples
- Order the removal and testing of equipment
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