HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK
The law imposes a responsibility
on the employer to ensure safety at work for all their employees. Much of the
law regarding safety in the work place can be
found in the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974.
Employers have to take reasonable
steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work.
Failure to do so could result in a criminal prosecution
in the Magistrate's Court or a Crown Court. Failure to ensure safe working
practises could also lead to an employee suing for personal injury or in some
employer being prosecuted for corporate manslaughter.
As well as this legal
responsibility, the employer also has an implied responsibility to take reasonable
steps as far as they are able to ensure the health and safety
of their employees is not put at risk. So an employer might be found liable
for his actions or failure to act even if these are not written in law.
employer should assess the level of risk as against the cost of eliminating
that risk in deciding whether they have taken reasonable steps as far as they
The employer's responsibility to the employee might include
a duty to provide safe plant and machinery and safe premises, a safe system
trained and supervised staff. Certain groups of employees may require more
care and supervision than others, for example disabled workers, pregnant workers,
illiterate workers etc.
Usually the employer's responsibility is only to his
or her own employees and premises; however, the responsibility can be extended
in some circumstances.
1. Where employees from different firms are
employed on one job, the main contractor will then be responsible for co-ordinating
the work in a safe manner and must
inform all employees of possible hazards whether they are his actual employees
2. Where the employee is sent to work for someone else but remains employed
by the same employer but an accident happens at the place where he has been
to work, the responsibility may fall on the original employer.
3. The employer may also have responsibility to customers or visitors who use
the work place.
It is always advisable for employers to have a written code
of conduct, rules regarding training and supervision, and rules on safety procedures.
include information on basic health and safety requirements. Leaflets and posters
giving warnings of hazards are always advisable.
In any event an employer must
establish a health and safety policy if they employ five or more workers. Where
there is a recognised trade union in the
which has appointed a safety representative that person must be consulted when
drawing up the safety policy.
Also the management of Health & Safety At
Work Regulations 1992 requires an employer to carry out a risk assessment of
the work place and put in place
appropriate control measures.
Any prospective employer setting up a new business
should be aware of six important regulations which came about as a result of
membership to the European Union
and are incorporated into UK law.
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
1992 places an obligation on the employer to actively carry out a risk assessment
of the work place and
Work place (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
deals with maintenance of the premises e.g. floors and corridors etc.
And Use Of The Work Equipment Regulations 1992 deals with guarding dangerous
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 deals with
the manual handling of equipment, stocks, materials etc.
Equipment Work Regulations 1992 deals with the introduction of protective clothing
etc. where necessary.
The Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations
1992 introduced measures to prevent repetitive strain injury, fatigue, eye
problems etc. in the
use of technological equipment.
The Health & Safety Executive and the Environmental
Health Departments for the local authorities are responsible for enforcing
the Health & Safety at
Work Act 1974 and the various regulations.
They can provide information and
guidance as well as enter premises to investigate conditions or seize and
destroy harmful substances. They can also prosecute
employers or serve Notices on them to improve working conditions, or in some
Notices that work should stop altogether