Law, Policy and Risk Assessments
Health and Safety Law – The Basics
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW Act) is a wide
ranging topic. It is a criminal offence to breach duties imposed
under it. The main act is merely enabling legislation, to be filled
from time to time with detailed regulations, having the full force
of the law. This Act is also supported by Approved Codes of
Practice and Guidance.
The basic duties of both employers and employees have under the
Health and Safety at work regulations are highlighted below.
Every employer has the general duty "to ensure, so far as is
reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of
all his employees".
- maintenance of premises, plant and other systems related to
work in a safe and risk free environment;
- measures for safety and absence of risks to health in
connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of
articles and substances;
- provision of instruction, training and supervision as necessary
to ensure the health and safety at work of your employees.
The act also lays down certain duties for employees. According
to the regulations, the duties of the employees include:
- taking reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves
and other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at
- to co-operate with all staff to ensure that all requirements
ands procedures, whether related to health and safety or not, can
be carried out.
The employer should keep an eye on any potential aspects that
can cause injury etc, to your employee. Put a strong emphasis on
duties of an employee both in his contract of employment and by
notices and the occasional meeting.
Health and Safety Policy
The HSW Act 1974 requires that if you employ five or more people
you must have a written health and safety policy.
- State that the company is committed to health and safety of
employees and this statement must be signed and dated by the
employer, (a Director or similar).
- First aid
- Accident records and reports
- Housekeeping and cleaning
- Protective equipment
- General workplace conditions
The purpose of a risk assessment is to check that you are
complying with health and safety laws. To ensure that the
assessments are 'suitable and sufficient' you should:
- Look at guidance e.g. what is the industry norm or Best
Practice - do you comply or exceed?
- Talk to staff
- Identify hazards
- Identify existing controls
- Decide if additional controls are needed
- Write it all down
- Write down who is responsible for putting any additional
controls in place and the date by which it must be finished
- Check that all controls are in place and effective (ask
- Review annually or if anything changes
- Remember to assess the risks from infrequent work activities
such as clearing gutters as well as normal activities such as using
In most businesses the matters that would normally be considered
in a risk assessment are:
- Slips, trips and falls
- Manual handling
- Workplace transport
- Falls from heights and falling objects
- Display Screen Equipment
- Lone working/violence
- Passive smoking
- Office activities
- Kitchen activities
- Cleaning (hazardous substances, electrical appliances)
- Maintenance (building and grounds)
- Power tools
- Flammable substances
- Hazardous substances
You need to think if there are any other hazards arising from
work activities or your site.
Last Updated: 22.05.2008 at 16:52