Every business will have processes in place to deal with inventory, payroll, human resources and so on. Just as an organisation must have procedures in place to manage these types of everyday issues, it must also have systems to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 detail exactly what arrangements employers must implement to control workplace risks. This is a moral and legal duty.
Also known as the ‘Management Regs’, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 outline the duties and responsibilities of all employers and employees in the UK. All workplaces must adhere to these regulations or face significant penalties. Therefore, a good knowledge of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 is essential for any employer.
The History of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations became law in the UK in 1993. These regulations were mandated by an EC Directive and were designed to ensure the UK met the minimum safety requirements of European Directives.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1993 also reinforced the requirements of the Health and Safety Act 1974. In particular, they made explicit the risk-based approach and the need for risk assessment across all sectors and workplaces.
The 1993 Management Regulations were updated to their current form in December 1999 and are now enforced as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The Roles and Duties of Employers
Under the Health and Safety Act 1974, all UK employers have a legal obligation to safeguard the health and safety of their employees as well as contractors and members of the public. Employees are also legally required to ensure their own safety and that of others.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 further expanded on and clarified these duties. They also clarify preventative measures that should be used by both employers and employees.
The duties of employers under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 are:
- Perform and record risk assessments (In workplaces with five or more employees)
- Create an effective health and safety plan (if they have more than four employees)
- Hire additional staff to help with health and safety issues, if necessary
- Design functional emergency practices and ensure staff are aware of these practices
- Provide relevant health and safety information to all employees
- In matters of health and safety, employers must work with any others who might share the same workspace
- Provide adequate and relevant health and safety training for employees
- Safeguards must be provided for pregnant workers and young children
- Employers must provide a health review, if necessary
An employer must also provide certain information as required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. They must note any risks or hazards discovered through analysis of the work environment, including those posed by another company sharing the space.
What safeguards or procedures have been in place to lower the level of risk must be documented. Employers must provide emergency information, practices and the contact information of key personnel.
The Roles and Duties of Employees
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 do not just cover the responsibilities of employers. Employees must also take responsibility for their own safety. Under these regulations, employees must:
- Use all equipment, tools and substances appropriately, in the manner in which they were trained
- Notify supervisors of any risks or hazards in the workplace
- Notify health and safety personnel if the employer’s health and safety plan is inadequate
- Ensure they act to protect their own health and safety as well as the health and safety of others
Recent Amendments to the Work Regulations 1999
The UK parliament made amendments to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 in October 2003. These amendments were put in place to allow employees to claim damages from their employers if they were injured or suffered an illness due to a breach of the regulations.
Conversely, the amendments also allow employees to bring legal action against employees for breaches of their obligations under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Penalties for Breaching the Work Regulations 1999
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 supplement the Health and Safety Act 1974. Legally speaking, these regulations assist employers and employees in avoiding breaches of the Health and Safety Act 1974. Because the Health and Safety Act 1974 is statutory legislation, any breaches of this Act are deemed as crimes and as such carry harsh penalties. Breaches of the Health and Safety Act 1974 can result in significant fines or even imprisonment.
How to Ensure You Comply with Health and Safety Legislation
As we have seen, employers have a legal duty to provide their employees with relevant health and safety training. This training will ensure that all members of an organisation understand their health and safety obligations and comply with the law.
Many employers choose to utilise online courses from reputable, professional providers. Online health and safety courses can be taken in accordance with work schedules and can be significantly cheaper than classroom-based options.
Human Focus provides accredited health and safety courses covering a wide range of industry sectors and workplaces. All courses can be taken online at your convenience, can be scaled to meet the needs of your company and are approved by recognised training bodies and associations.