UNISON Scotland Voluntary & Community Sector Newssheet
Health and safety law and you
The UK has one of the lowest accident rates in the world.
In part this is because of the pioneering Health and Safety
at Work Act, and the various regulations made under this
Act. These regulations have the same status as other laws.
If all the legislation on health and safety were fully
enforced, then the United Kingdom would be a very safe place
to work. However, many of the health and safety regulations
are ignored in theCommunity & Voluntary sector. Managers
and management committee members should be aware that they
have a legal responsibility to comply with all health and
safety legislation or risk prosecution.
Ignorance is not a defence, and you cannot delegate your
responsibilities. However remember, compliance is not enough.
Employers should aim to go above simply complying with the
law and try to be a good employer, with health and safety
built into the culture of the organisation.
The following Acts and Regulations are ones that are likely
to be relevant to a typical Community & Voluntary sector
organisation. They apply to all parts of the UK, although
the name of the legislation is different in the case of
Health and Safety at Work Act
The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) is the main piece
of health and safety legislation. It puts a duty on employers
to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of their
employees and to ensure their activities do not endanger
others. It says that you must have a safety policy and you
must consult with your workforce. The Act also allows the
Secretary of State to make regulations on health and safety.
This power has been used to introduce most subsequent health
and safety legislation.
The Six Pack
The six pack is a set of six regulations all introduced
at the end of 1992 following a European directive. Some
have since been updated. The regulations are:
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
- these say that employers must have health and safety
management systems and conduct risk assessments.
- The Display Screen Equipment Regulations - these cover
most VDUs and state that employers must carry out assessments
of workstations, meet certain standards and provide breaks,
eye tests and training.
- The Manual Handling Operations Regulations - These regulations
say employers must remove the risk from manual handling
by avoiding lifting, pushing, pulling and moving activities
wherever possible, automating the process, or reducing
the risk through other means. Again it requires a risk
assessment to be done by the employer.
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations -
Employers must provide suitable personal protective equipment
when other safety measures will not remove the risk. Personal
protective equipment must be free of charge.
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations - These
deal with all equipment. Not just industrial machinery,
but also photocopiers, knifes, computers etc. They must
be suitable, safe and maintained.
- The Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations
- These lay down general principles of welfare, including
ventilation, temperature, cleanliness, washing facilities
and rest rooms.
The Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply)
Regulations, commonly known has CHIPs, cover the classification
and labelling of chemicals. They say you must keep safety
datasheets on all chemicals where there is a possible hazard,
including those used for cleaning.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations
covers all dangerous substances, not just chemicals. They
say that employers must conduct a risk assessment, control
the hazard, and give information and training.
The Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences
Regulations state employers must report and keep a record
of, certain accidents and incidents. A more detailed guide
to health & safety law is available to download from UNISON's
website: 'Guide to the six pack' New, revised edition of
the guide to six European health and safety regulations.
Updated September 2000 Acrobat PDF version http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/10349.pdf
UNISON members should ask their employer if they would
like to know more about working in partnership with UNISON,
email: firstname.lastname@example.org with details.
- Have you got an up to date safety policy?
- Do you consult with staff on health & safety?
- Do you display the statutory Health & Safety notice
in your premises?
Source: Risks 140
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