We all have a duty to comply with health and safety in the workplace, even when working from home. UK health and safety has evolved over several hundreds of years and was formalised in 1974. It is a very complex Act of Parliament which was designed to be fluid so that it could react to changes in business and technology. Nobody can be expected to be an expert, but for the sake of simplicity, and to get a basic understanding, The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 key points can be summarised below.
Updated for 2020
Section 2. Duties of employers to employees.
To ensure as far a reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all employees. In particular.
Safe plant, equipment and systems of work.
Safe use, handling, storage and transportation of substances and articles.
Adequate provision of instruction, training and supervision for the task undertaken.
A safe place of work including safe access and egress.
A safe working environment with adequate welfare facilities.
A written health and safety policy to include organisational arrangements where 5 or more employees are involved.
The right to consult a safety rep and form a safety committee where a recognised trade union is involved or 2 or more people request it.
Section 3. Duties of employers to others affected by their undertaking.
The employer has a duty to safeguard others not in his employment that may be affected by the works or undertaking.
This might include members of the public, customers, visitors, contractors, patients, students etc.
Section 4. Duties of Landlords, building owners and those in control of premises.
Safe access and egress to the premises and safe and healthy plant and equipment that may be supplied or installed as part of the building such as gas boilers and air conditioning plant.
Section 6. Duties of suppliers.
Designers, suppliers, manufacturers and importers of any article or substance must ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that they are safe and without risk to health. This includes when they are in use, being maintained, transported, handled and stored.
Section 7. Duties of employees.
To take reasonable care of themselves and others who may be affected by their acts and ommissions.
To cooperate with the employer and others to allow the fulfillment of their legal obligations.
Section 8. Horseplay
No person should remove or interfere with anything provided for the health, welfare and safety of all.
Commonly known as the Horseplay Act
Section 9. PPE.
Employers to provide free of charge PPE relevant to the employees task or work role.
Employees cannot be charged for PPE which they require to safely carry out their duties.
Section 36. Offences due to the fault of another.
Two people can be charged if an offence committed by one person was a result of an offence committed by a second person.
Typically person 1 might be the employer and person 2 might be the supplier of faulty goods or equipment.
Section 37. Personal liability of directors.
Directors and senior managers cannot organise their business activities in such a way as to make them look ignorant of any breaches of health and safety.
Where there is an offence committed by the corporate body with the consent, connivance or neglect of a director or senior officer, then both the corporate body and senior officer can be prosecuted together.
And last but not least
We all have a role to play in effective health and safety, and for those actively involved in promoting safe working practices it can be a rewarding, interesting and varied role.
Please visit this site often where you will find a growing number of articles, resources, advice and opinion.
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Due to the ever-changing nature of regulations and the law, please visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/ for the very latest information and updates.
The Health and Safety at Work Act After 40 Years.
Has it stood the test of time?