HSWA: HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK ACT 1974 GENERAL DUTIES BASIC INFORMATION AND TUTORIALS


In Part 1 of the HSWA are a series of obligations on all those whose activities could affect safety in workplaces in different ways:

! Employers:Employers owe a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees and trainees (HSWA, s 2). This extends to the provision of appropriate information and training, and adequate welfare facilities.

! Self-employed: Every self-employed person must ensure his own safety so far as is reasonably practicable (HSWA, s 3(2)).

! Employers and self-employed: Both owe an additional duty in relation to persons who are not their employees but who may nevertheless be adversely affected by the conduct of the employers or self employed persons’ business activities (or “undertaking”) (HSWA, s 3(1) – (2)). The duty is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that such persons are not exposed to risks.


! Employees: Every employee is obliged to take reasonable care for his own and others’ safety, to co operate with the employee on safety matters and not to interfere or misuse any safety equipment (HSWA, ss 7–8).

! Owners and managers of property: A person who controls (to any extent) nondomestic premises, plant or substances kept on premises has to take reasonable measures to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of the premises and the plant or substances (HSWA, s 4).

! Manufacturers and suppliers: (Those who manufacture, import or supply substances and articles for use at work and those who design articles) are required to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of the products (HSWA, s 6). This entails the provision of adequate safety information.

In each case these general duties have important implications for accident risk management. The codes of practice and good practice guidelines described elsewhere in this book will in most situations represent what it is reasonably practicable for duty holders to do to ensure that, where the risk of accidents cannot be avoided, the consequential risks to health are minimised through good accident management systems.

It is also implicit in the general duties that lessons learned from accidents (including near misses) are used to inform the ongoing risk management process and so reduce risks further. In fact there are more specific obligations as well to this effect (see 5.25–5.26).

Failures by employers and others to implement reasonably practicable precautions (or in the case of employees, failure to follow them) can lead not just to criminal prosecutions as well as other enforcement measures designed to compel compliance with the legal obligations to ensure health and safety.

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