Health and Safety- are you doing it right? (pt.2)

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA)

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA)

In my last Blog I dealt with the main objectives of the Health and Safety at Work Act, now I would like to deal with enforcement of the act.

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As with any piece of legislation, its effectiveness needs to be monitored and adapted as and when the need arises. The Health and Safety at Work Act created two distinct bodies to deal with all aspects of compliance with the legal requirements.

These are:
The Health and Safety Commission (HSC)
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
The Role of the Health
and Safety Commission

The Health and Safety Commission is primarily responsible for developing health and safety policy, procedures and regulations across the whole spectrum of industry. It is also the main sponsor for research into effective health and safety training.

It is also the body responsible for setting up investigations and inquiries into all health and safety matters. In short, they act proactively to ensure that all relevant measures are taken to improve health and safety throughout industry and will react and respond to any issues that may be a cause of concern.

The Health and Safety Commission is chaired by a full-time independent Chair and 9 part-time Commissioners. The make-up of the Commissioners is such that all sectors of industry are adequately represented and contains the following members:
• 3 TUC members
• 3 CBI members
• 2 Local Authority representatives
• 1 Independent member

The Role of the Health and Safety Executive

Clipboard_healthandsafety.pngThe Health and Safety Executive is regarded as the operational arm of the Health and Safety Commission, charged with the task of enforcing health and safety laws. It also advises companies on good health and safety practice and compliance with
the Act. It is divided into 21 geographical divisions covering the whole of the UK. Each area office has its own Director and staff including inspectors.

The Health and Safety Executive has the following powers:
• To enter any business premises at any reasonable time without prior notice.
• To inspect all premises for health and safety compliance.
• To take all necessary photographs, measurements or samples.
• To seize, render harmless or destroy any dangerous item or material.
• To remove any articles from the premises for further examination.
• To inspect all relevant documentation relating to safety.

It should be noted that the Health and Safety Executive is not the only body that can enforce health and safety legislation and certain powers are delegated to other officers, in particular, Environmental Health Officers within local authorities who will deal with all issues relating to public safety.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

If Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive consider that a company or individual has failed to comply with any relevant part of health and safety law, the Executive can take any of the following measures depending on the individual circumstances:

• Advise - Advice can be given on any improvement required and may be delivered verbally or in writing.

• Issue of a Prohibition Notice - This stops an activity from continuing which is considered hazardous or dangerous.

• Issue an Improvement Notice - This directs an employer to take certain actions within a specific timescale. An employer is entitled to appeal against the issue of an improvement notice and the notice is suspended until such a time that the appeal is heard.

• Prosecution - If all other actions taken have failed to bring about any improvement, the HSE will prosecute. Most cases can be heard summarily (by a Magistrates’ Court) or on indictment (by the Crown Court).

If convicted of an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the following penalties could apply:

• A maximum fine of £2000 if convicted by a magistrate.
• An unlimited fine and/or 2 years imprisonment if convicted in a higher court.

Other Important Legislation

As I have already pointed out, the Health and Safety at Work Act did not replace former Acts of Parliament dealing with workplace safety, it merely looked at the generic health and safety requirements of industry as a whole and laid down general guidelines which can be interpreted by all industries.

As this Blog is specifically aimed at the cleaning industry I will briefly outline the requirements of other important pieces of legislation which have not been dealt with here and may affect your own operation, in later Blogs. 

In part III of this Blog I will deal with other important pieces of legislation that may effect your operations. Simply enter your email address below and click the “Sign me up!” button to get free updates from my Blog

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