A Comprehensive Guide to Occupational Health Regulations
Who is responsible for Occupational Health & Safety?
Employers have a legal obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees while on the job, to the extent that it is reasonably achievable. Although some workplaces are riskier than others, every employee needs to take responsibility for managing potential hazards, even in the safest of environments. Employees are expected to familiarize themselves with all applicable rules and procedures that govern their work and to adhere to them to prevent accidents and illnesses. While companies may hire dedicated personnel to manage health and safety risks, ultimately, any violation of Health and Safety Law, or any accidents that occur, will be the responsibility of the Employer.
What legislation is in place to enforce Health and Safety?
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation governing Occupational Health and Safety in Great Britain. Within the Act are several Occupational Health (OH) Regulations which employers are encouraged to follow to comply with the legislation. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the country’s national regulator for workplace health and safety and helps to advise Employers on how best to reduce the risk of injury and ill health within the workplace.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 aims to protect the health, safety and welfare of people at work and members of the public who may be affected by work activities. Alongside that, the Act aims to
- Ensure employers assess and manage the risks to the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their work.
- Provide a framework for developing specific health and safety regulations and guidance to help employers and employees meet their obligations under the Act.
- Create and implement a system for enforcing health and safety standards through inspections, investigations, and other enforcement actions. Encourage the development of a workplace culture of health and safety.
What are the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations?
Since its creation, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 has helped the UK make significant progress in workplace safety and has also set up an efficient way to introduce new legislation. Since 1974, several significant regulations have been introduced, including:
- The Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989
- The Health and Safety Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992
- The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
- Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995
- Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998
- The Working Time Regulations 1998
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002
- The Work at Height Regulations 2005
- The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
- The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006
- The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007
- Who is responsible for enforcing Occupational Health and Safety Legislation and Regulations?
The Health and Safety Act 1974 is enforced by the HSE in Scotland, England and Wales, and the HSENI in Northern Ireland. The HSE and HSENI have the power to:
- Inspect workplaces to ensure that they comply with the Act and other health and safety regulations.
- Investigate accidents and incidents that occur at work to determine their causes and how they could have been prevented.
- Prosecute employers, employees, and self-employed people who have committed offences under the Act or other health and safety regulations.
- Serve improvement and prohibition notices on employers and other duty holders requiring them to take or stop specific actions to ensure compliance with the Act and other regulations.
- Require employers to provide information about the risks to the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their work, and the steps they have taken to manage those risks.
The HSE has a helpful website that provides advice and guidance to employers and employees on how to comply with the Act and other health and safety regulations. They also offer a range of training and support to help people understand their health and safety obligations and fulfil them effectively.