Health and Safety Law at Work

In the Workplace – General Provisions

Health and Safety Law is an extremely important area of law and is continually developing through innovation, interpretation and modification.

Civil Liability

Vicarious Liability

Under the tort of vicarious liability employers are held to be liable for those acts committed by employees which have caused harm to another individual. This individual could be a member of the general public, another employee or an independent contractor contracted to work on the job. The employer is said to be liable due to the control that he exercises over his employee.

In the case where the employee himself has suffered injury we need to look closely at health and safety law in the workplace and specifically the various health and safety regulations.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 impose various requirements on employers in relation to health and safety. The key obligations are as follows:

  • To undertake suitable and sufficient risk assessments
  • Following the risk assessments to make and record the Health and Safety measures which are shown to be required
  • To appoint competent people to help the implementation of the necessary health and safety arrangements
  • To set up emergency procedures
  • To provide adequate training to employees
  • To provide information to employees which is easily understandable
  • If other employers are sharing the same workspace then there must be adequate co-operation and co-ordination with those other employers.

Risk Assessments

Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of:

  • The risks to the health and safety or their employees to which they are exposed of while at work
  • The risks to the health and safety of those not in their employ arising out of or in connection with the conduct by them – this would be taken to include visitors to the premises.

Young person

An employer who employs a young person shall only do so if he has made or reviewed a risk assessment taking into account the health and safety risks of that young person. The following factors should therefore be taken into account:

  • The inexperience, lack of awareness or immaturity of the young person
  • The fitting out and layout of the workplace
  • The nature, degree and duration of exposure to risks
  • The form, range and use of work equipment
  • The organisation of activities
  • The extent of health and safety training providing to the young person

Group of five or more employees

Where an employer employs five or more employees he shall record the following:

  • The significant findings of the assessment
  • Any group of his employees whom have been identified as being specifically at risk.

Even if an employer employs less than five employees it would be advisable to record the findings despite it not being a legal requirement as if there were any claim on the ground of health and safety they would be able to show all appropriate measures where in fact taken.

Competent Persons

All employers shall appoint one or more competent persons to assist them in undertaking the required measures they need to comply with under various Health and Safety Regulations.

In order for an individual to be competent on health and safety matters they must have received health and safety training and have some relevant experience of the business in question. This means that they will be adept at spotting health and safety concerns which may arise from the usual operations of the business.

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For more information on:

  • Information
  • The Health and Safety (Information for Employees) Regulations 1998
  • Specific Forms of Posters
  • First Aid
  • The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
  • The Approved Code of Practice regarding first aid
  • Premises
  • The Workplace (Health, Safety and Workplace) Regulations 1992