Did you know The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 (often abbreviated to “HSWA” or “The H&S at Work Act“) is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain?
The act creates a framework of rights and responsibilities for employers, employees, and others affected by work activities. Health and safety should be the number one priority of any employer.
Employers are responsible for ensuring that your workplace follows H&S Compliance rules. This blog post will look at what the H&S Act covers and what you need to do to ensure compliance.
Main Duties of Employers for H&S Compliance
Under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, every employer must ensure that it is operating in reasonably practicable, health, safety, and welfare of all their employees while they are at work.
To comply with this duty, as an employer, you must first identify what risks there are. Next, you must take steps to control those risks so that employees are not exposed to unnecessary risks while working.
To do this, some risk assessment will need to be performed. You can also have a health and safety management system in place. This is in addition to consultation with employees or their representatives (for example, trade union health and safety representatives). Once the risks have been identified, you will need to consider what can be done to eliminate or reduce them.
You also want to take into account factors such as cost and practicality. Only after you have taken all reasonable steps to protect your employees should you consider personal protective equipment (PPE).
Primary Duties of Employees of H&S Act
Employees also have responsibilities for health and safety under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This section states that it shall be the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care of their health and safety.
This also means doing the same for others who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work. Employees should cooperate with their employer or any other person as necessary to enable any duty or requirement imposed on their employer. The Health and Safety Act also mentions any person by or under any relevant statutory provision should comply with the rules of this act.
Obligations for Individuals
The Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 does not place duties on individual members of the public. Yet, there are certain offences that individuals can commit under the act.
One example is obstructing an inspector in the execution of his/her functions. Another example would be failing to comply with a notice served by an inspector. If you are convicted of an offence under the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, you could face an unlimited fine, up to 2 years imprisonment, or both.
There are also strict liability offences where it does not matter whether you knew what you were doing was illegal. If it breached a statutory requirement, you could still be prosecuted.
Employers Civil Liability
Employers can be held liable in tort (civil law) for breach of statutory duty and under contract law. This would be for breach of contractual duty of care owed to employees.
An employee who suffers injury due to their employer’s breach of statutory duty may sue for damages for negligence as well as being able to bring a claim under industrial injuries of benefits legislation.
Health and Safety Should Be a Priority!
The Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 imposes various obligations on employers, employees, and individuals. Employees’ health, safety, and welfare should be a top priority for any employer.
Understanding the H&S Act can help ensure your company operates safely and efficiently. H&S compliance is essential, and we can help you uphold your duties to your employees. Contact us today, and let us help you find the best way to manage your health and safety within your organisation.