Top 8 Pieces of Workplace Legislation
Safe workplaces are productive workplaces, and as an employer, you need to know the health and safety legislation that applies to your business and make sure that it is implemented.
If you don’t, you may be liable for prosecution, and if there is a serious breach of regulations that leads to injury or death, it could have serious implications for your business and those responsible for running it.
Below is an outline of the most important pieces of workplace legislation you need to know about.
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The main duties of the employer under these regulations include:
- Making risk assessments to your workforce’s health and safety and acting on identified risks so they can be reduced.
- Having competent people overseeing health and safety in the workplace, giving the workforce information and training, and having a written policy on health and safety that is implemented.
Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
Under these regulations, you must provide:
- Adequate heating, lighting, ventilation and workspace.
- Staff facilities, including washing facilities, toilets and refreshment.
- Safe passageways so hazards such as slipping and tripping are prevented.
Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
Regular users of display screen equipment (DSE) require protection, and these regulations are to ensure they are covered. You need to:
- Carry out a risk assessment.
- Make sure DSE users have adequate breaks – these are not stipulated legally, but a 5-10-minute break for every hour of screen time is thought to be a safe way of operating.
- Provide regular eye tests and health and safety information.
- Ensure that adjustable furniture, such as chairs and desks, are provided.
- Show that adequate procedures are in place to reduce risks such as repetitive strain injury (RSI) to regular DSE users.
Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
Under these regulations, to protect your workforce, you are required to:
- Avoid, where reasonably possible, the necessity for employees to carry out manual handling activities that involve the risk of injury.
- Produce risk assessments so the chance of injury through manual handling is reduced.
- Ensure employees involved in this work are given information on how much each load weighs.
- You should also consider, in the risk assessment, an individual’s personal characteristics, such as their strength and understanding of how to lift safely.
Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
This section outlines that as an employer, you must:
- Make sure appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is supplied without cost to the employee. PPE includes safety helmets, protective goggles, facemasks, gloves, ear defenders, air filters, protective footwear and overalls.
- Ensure PPE is suitable for the specific types of risk in the workplace environment.
- Give workers information, instruction and training on the use of PPE.
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) require you to report wide-ranging work-related incidents, diseases and injuries to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). You can also report these to the environmental health department of your local authority.
Under the regulations, you are required to have an accident book where you record the date and time, who was involved and affected, and the nature of any incident, along with a note of what happened.
You must report:
- The death of any employee or person visiting the workplace.
- Injuries, including amputations, fractures, eye injuries, electric shock injuries and acute illness, that require a person be taken to hospital or immediate medical attention.
- If an accident at work causes an employee to have to be relieved of their normal work for over seven days, known as ‘over-seven-day incapacitation’.
- Occupational diseases, including asthma; RSI, where the hand or forearm cramps due to repeated movement; tendon injuries such as tendonitis; hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), where a person’s work involves using vibrating or percussive tools on a regular basis; dermatitis.
- Near misses, known as ‘dangerous occurrences’. These do not have to have resulted in an accident or injury, but you should be aware of potential risks and seek to mitigate them.
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
For this regulation, you need to:
- Make sure the work equipment that you provide is suitable and safe for the purpose for which it is provided.
- Ensure equipment is properly maintained, no matter how old it is.
- Provide information, training and instruction on how to use the equipment safely.
- Check employees are protected from dangerous parts of any machinery.
Working Time Regulations 1998
There are two European Union directives that relate to the organisation of working time and how young workers, under the age of 18, can be employed.
These regulations implement those directives, and cover the right to have rest breaks and annual leave. The length of the working week is also limited, though employees can opt out of this if they wish.
The main protections for adult workers include:
- A maximum working week of 48 hours. As an employer, you have a contractual obligation that you cannot require employees to work more than 48 hours unless they have voluntarily opted out of doing so, which must be done in writing.
- Daily rest periods of 11 hours minimum, though shift working arrangements may be made if they comply with the regulations.
- A daily rest break of 20 minutes after six hours’ work.
- Additional protections for young workers include longer daily rest periods and daily breaks, and a shorter working week of 40 hours with no opt-out permitted.
Good implementation of health and safety regulations helps ensure your workplace can prevent, as much as possible, accidents and injuries, and means you are compliant with workplace law and encouraging safe working practices.