The UK Health and Safety at Work Act

The UK Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAWA), 1994

Every developed nation has some rules and regulations that govern the workplace. In the UK, these rules and regulations can be found in the Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAWA) of 1994. These regulations lay down the duties of employers with regards to health and safety at the workplace.

The laws found in the UK Health and Safety Legislations at Work Act enumerate what employers are expected to do to keep their employers and other visitors to their premises safe. It also goes forward to enumerate the duties of employers to their employees with regard to health.

The UK Health and Safety Act feature the powers that allow the Health and Safety Executive to implement these duties of the
employer as well as the penalties for failing to comply with these regulations. Basically, under the HASAWA, every employer’s is expected to provide all employees with a safe and healthy environment to work in. These duties include:

ü Provision of a safe system of work

ü Provision of safe plant, machinery, and equipment

ü Provision of a safe environment to work in

ü Making sure that the people working in their organization are safe and competent, especially as employers are also held accountable for the actions of their managers and

ü The duty to carry out a risk assessment so as to properly identify possible health and safety risks and take appropriate steps to eliminate and/or mitigate risks to prevent harm to their staff or other persons at the workplace or workplace premises.

ü The duty to fully inform workers of potential work-related hazards (such as chemical substances or work processes) as well as provide appropriate training, instruction, and supervision.

ü Appointment of a competent person who will liaise with other staff health and safety representatives, oversee safety inspections and be in charge of making sure general health and safety standards are adhered to.

ü Provision of adequate staff welfare facilities at work.

It should also be noted that other persons such as contractors, casual workers, contractors, clients and public visitors found on the employer’s premises are also covered under the employer’s safety obligations.

The Health and Safety Executive

The HSE formed on January 1st, 1975 by the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 is the body in charge of encouraging, enforcing and regulating the health, safety, and welfare in the workplace. Headquartered in Liverpool, England, this body is also in charge of researching into workplace risks in Great Britain. Sponsored by the Department of Work and Pensions, the HSE also carries out investigations into industrial accidents whether large or small and other major explosions so as to determine the causes of the incident and to judge whether the employer adhered to all the health and safety rules and regulations. Other HSE’s duties include:

ü Encouraging training, research, and publication, and information relating to its work.

ü Offering assistance and encouragement to those dealing with matters pertaining to the operations of the objectives of the HARAWA 1974.

The HSE uses local authorities to enforce the rules and regulations of HARAWA in offices, organizations, shops and other parts of the service sector. It is important to note that failure to adhere to these regulations would inevitably attract punishment and legal action where necessary.