Health and Safety in the Workplace: Part 2
In a previous post we looked at the Health and Safety at work Act 1974 (HASAWA) and the "6 Pack Regulations" that goes with it. Now let's look at the rest of the things you need to know for health and safety in the workplace.
Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
Electricity is a major hazard - not only can it kill directly, through shocks, it can also cause fires and explosions. These regulations aim to limit the risks involved in using electricity at work.
Electrical equipment includes anything used or intended to be used, to provide, convert, conduct, store or use electrical energy. This definition includes everything from very high voltage overhead supply cables to battery-powered equipment.
Who has responsibilities?
Duties are placed on:
- Employers, employees and the self-employed - to comply with the regulations as far as matters are under their control
- Employees - to co-operate with their employer
General safety of electrical systems
All electrical systems should, as far as possible, be of safe construction and maintained in that state.
Also, work being carried out on or near electrical systems must be carried out in such a manner as to avoid danger. Any protective equipment provided must be suitable and properly maintained and used.
Use of suitable equipment
No electrical equipment should be connected into a system if there is a chance that its strength and capability may be exceeded in a way as that causes danger.
All electrical equipment that may be exposed to:
- mechanical damage
- the effects of the weather, natural hazards (animals, trees & plants etc.)
- the effects of wet, dirty, dusty or corrosive conditions
- flammable or explosive substances
must be constructed or protected so that danger doesn't arise.
Isolation and 'live' or 'dead' working
All electrical equipment (except power sources themselves) must have secure and safe means of isolation from all sources of electrical energy.
Suitable precautions must be taken to ensure that, once equipment is isolated so that work can be carried out on it, it cannot become electrically charged again whilst the work is in progress.
Access, space and light
Adequate working space, safe access and adequate lighting must be provided to enable work on electrical equipment to be carried out safely.
Anyone working on electrical systems where technical knowledge or experience is necessary, must have the required knowledge and/or experience or be under suitable supervision.
Electrical Equipment (safety) Regulations 1994
These regulations and the Low Voltage Electrical Equipment Regulations 1989 apply to anyone who supplies electrical equipment in the course of a business.
The Regulations impose the obligation on the supplier to ensure that they are 'safe', so that there is no risk of death or personal injury, or risk of damage to property.
When purchasing such items, your supplier should only be selling items which comply. But if you make those items available to third parties in the course of your business then you are also liable.
Both sets of Regulations relate to:
- all mains voltage household electric goods including:
- electric blankets,
- washing machines,
- immersion heaters, etc.
- but the regulations do not apply to items that are fixed, they only apply to items that can be moved, such as a portable heater or hairdryer, but not a central heating system,
- the supply of electrical equipment designed with a working voltage of between 50 & 1000 volts a.c. (or between 75 & 1500 d.c)
The Regulations Require that:
- All electrical equipment that is supplied is safe.
- Where the safe use of the equipment relies upon the user being aware of any particular characteristic, suitable information or instruction booklets should be provided. The instructions should be given in English.
- Any equipment supplied in the EEC after 9th January 1995 must be marked with the appropriate CE symbol.
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When purchasing such items, your supplier should only be selling items to you which comply but if you make those items available to third parties in the course of your business then you are also liable.
Working Time Regulations 1998
These regulations govern the time that people in the UK may work. The Regulations apply to all workers (not just employees) and stipulate minimum rest breaks, daily rest, weekly rest and the maximum average working week.
First, it sets a default rule that workers may work no more than 48 hours per week (although employees may opt out of it). Secondly, it grants a mandatory right to paid annual leave of at least a minimum of 28 days (including bank holidays and public holidays). Thirdly, it creates the right to a minimum period of rest of 20 minutes in any shift lasting over 6 hours.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)
COSHH1 is a United Kingdom Statutory Instrument that states general requirements on employers to protect employees and other persons from the hazards of substances used at work by risk assessment, control of exposure, health surveillance and incident planning.
There are also duties on employees' to take care of their own exposure to hazardous substances and prohibitions on the import of certain substances into the European Economic Area.
The regulations are complementary to the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2002 (CHIPS) which require labelling of hazardous substances by suppliers. There are other regulations concerning the labelling and signage of pipes and containers, and since 2008 a further level of control mechanism on dangerous chemicals was added by the EU regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). For a full list of prohibited substances follow the link cited below1.
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR)
RIDDOR is a 2013 Statutory Instrument of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It regulates the statutory obligation to report deaths, injuries, diseases and "dangerous occurrences", including near misses, that take place at work or in connection with work.
The regulations require "responsible persons" to report deaths at work, major injuries caused by accidents at work, injuries to person who do not work at your workplace (such as members of the public or visitors) that require hospital treatment, injuries arising from accidents in hospitals, and dangerous occurrences.
Responsible persons are generally employers, but also include various managers and occupiers of premises. Though the regulations do not impose a specific obligation on employees, they have a general obligation under section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to take care of safety. The Health and Safety Executive recommends that they report incidents to their employer and encourages voluntary notification to the relevant regulating authority.
1. Found on Wikipedia
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All information should not be taken as advice and if you think you may have problems relating to Health and Safety in your workplace then it is advised that you speak to your local council or relevant body (such as HSE).