Prior to the introduction of the Health & Safety at Work act 1974, the working environment was covered by various acts i.e. The Factories Act, The Shop Workers Act, The Mineworkers Act.

The introduction of the Health & Safety at Work Act following the Robens report, has simplified legislation by making it all encompassing, goal setting rather than applying specifically to each industrial area.

Health & Safety is not a tool to be used to stop a task from being performed; it is a tool for the benefit of all by minimising the risks to all concerned.

So it makes economic sense for us to apply good health and safety practice, it morally prevents harm and injury to individuals and legal compliance ensures the economic and moral benefits.

The Health & Safety at Work Act now underpins the principles that everybody owns Health & Safety and this is enshrined in Law, and as such Employees as well as employers are governed by legislation.  Employers have duties imposed upon them.

Section 2 of the Act.
Duties of Employers to Employees to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all employees. In particular:

a)  Safe plant and safe systems of work
b)  Safe use, handling, transport and storage of substances and articles
c)  Provision of adequate information, instruction, training and supervision
d)  Safe place of work, access and egress.
e)  Safe working environment with adequate welfare facilities.
f)  A written safety policy together with organisational and other arrangements (if more than 5 employees).

As Employees we have to co-operate with the employer under Section 7 of the Act, employees have to;

a)  Take reasonable care for the Health and safety of themselves and others affected by their acts or omissions.

b)  operate with the employer and others to enable them to fulfil their legal duties.

Your Role

It is important that you keep your safety representatives informed.  If you see something that you can put right, DO IT.  If you are unable to put it right, REPORT IT, and remember to Submit Near Miss Forms.