Health & safety laws exist to protect everyone in the working environment, and should therefore be stringently adhered to. By ensuring that the following legislation is complied with at all times, your company will be a safe place for employees.

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

Safety regulations in the UK are largely covered by the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, which highlights the main steps that employers must take in order to maintain an acceptable working environment. The Act stipulates:

  • Employers must ensure that the workplace and work systems are safe
  • Employers must ensure the welfare of employees and create a written document stating how this will be done
  • They must also work with unions to make sure that health & safety standards are acceptable
  • All workers and managers have a responsibility to avoid putting themselves or others in danger
  • Everyone in the workplace has a duty to protect members of the wider public who come on-site – e.g. visitors, contractors, collaborative partners
  • Employees must comply with any safety regulations put in place

Those who work at a lower management level may be expected to take on more health & safety duties. They should be given appropriate training in order to fulfil their responsibilities. They should also speak to health & safety representatives within the workplace if they feel that any laws are being contravened.

The Safety Representatives & Safety Committees Regulations 1977

This law was implemented to give trade unions a bigger voice in terms of health & safety. It allows unions to appoint representatives in order to improve safety standards.

The chosen representative must be well-versed in law and work regulations. All of the information that they may need is contained in the health & safety representatives’ guide, which is commonly referred to as “The Brown Book”. If you have any concerns, your union representative is usually a good person to speak with.

The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992

These regulations focus on the working environment and how it should be safe at all times. Some of its stipulations include:

  • Workplaces should be well-ventilated
  • Equipment and devices must be safe to use
  • Rooms are to be regulated at a reasonable temperature, be well-lit and should be acceptably clean
  • Washing facilities, drinking water and sanitary conveniences must be available
  • It should also be possible for employees to change clothes at work, and there should be an area to store clothing
  • Facilities to rest and eat must be provided

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995

These regulations are known as RIDDOR, and refer to the responsibility of employers to report work-related injuries, serious illnesses and deaths.

Thankfully, such incidents are rare. However, after taking all steps that are immediately necessary – for example, calling the emergency services – reports should be made to the Incident Contact Centre or to the HSE RIDDOR Report Web Pages. These pages highlight the requirements in such situations, any necessary reports that should be made, and statistics gathered from other RIDDOR reports. This means that serious incidents at work are recorded.

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

These concentrate on employers and their responsibility to assess potential risks. They also state that employers must manage any hazards to avoid injuries, diseases or illnesses that could occur due to the working environment.

In order to comply with this set of regulations, employers must make provisions for emergencies and also train employees in workplace safety and conduct health surveillance where necessary.

Workers have a duty to work safely and follow all training given to them. They also have a responsibility to alert the appropriate representatives or managers when accidents do occur.

Seeking Legal Advice

If you have experienced injury or illness at work due to negligence on someone else’s part, you may be entitled to compensation. Many feel that making a claim against their employer could jeopardise their job security and create a difficult environment at work, but if your employer has neglected health and safety standards, you should seek legal advice.

This blog is brought to you by Slater Heelis, solicitors specialising in workplace safety and advice.