Legal Guides

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Health and Safety Law in the Workplace – The main regulations companies must abide by

There are a number of regulations covering Health and Safety in the workplace.  Here is a brief rundown of what they are and what they mean in practice. 

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

As the name suggests, these regulations make it a legal obligation for health and safety to be actively managed by a competent person, with written policies and suitable information provided to employees.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
The Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended)

These two sets of regulations cover the requirements for general health and safety in the workplace.  The former largely deal with making sure that buildings are fit for purpose, eg, that they have safe walkways, hygiene facilities, access to drinking water and adequate lighting.

The Working Time Regulations aim to ensure that workers have sufficient rest time so that they are awake and alert enough to be able to look after their own safety and that of those around them.

NB: As a rule of thumb, a working week is considered to be a maximum of 48 hours.  Many workers can choose to opt out of this maximum limit but, even in this situation, their employer still has a responsibility to ensure that the employee’s working time is managed in such a way that they can get sufficient rest so as to maintain their mental and physical well-being and to stay safe at work.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations are designed to ensure that all equipment provided by employers is appropriate, fit for purpose and suitably maintained and that employees are given the necessary training to use it safely.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992

These regulations set out specific requirements for those who spend extended periods at computer screens.  This is now such a common situation in the UK, that it was considered necessary for it to be treated separately.

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

These rules mandate the free provision of appropriate personal safety equipment to address risks in situations without feasible alternatives.  For example, employers would be expected to ensure that employees were protected from exposure to fire, but in some cases this is part of the job and so the employer would be expected to provide appropriate protective equipment such as goggles and fireproof clothing.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

These regulations mandate that, where possible, employers should ensure that employees are protected from the need to undertake manual operations where there is a risk of injury and where this is not possible, that the employer take steps to minimize the risk.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995

Commonly known as RIDDOR, this legislation basically requires employers to report relevant events, ie, it makes it illegal for employers to cover them up.  In this context, relevant events include “dangerous occurrences” – in other words – near misses.

Author: Image To Suit You – a health and safety workwear specialist based in North London

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic.

Published on 24th April 2017
(Last updated 7th May 2021)