Health and Safety Legislation

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Health and safety legislation
Two of the most important pieces of health and safety legislation affecting educational establishments across the UK are the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. These set the standards that must be met to ensure the health and safety of all employees and others who may be affected by any work activity. Other regulations also exist to cover work activities that carry specific risks, for example lifting and carrying, computer work and electricity.

Health and safety at work Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 , also referred to as HASAW or HSW, is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in the United Kingdom. The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for enforcing the Act and a number of other Acts and Statutory Instruments relevant to the working environment. Statutory instruments are the secondary types of legislation made under specific Acts of Parliament. These cover a wide range of subjects, from control of asbestos at work, diving, escape and rescue from mines, ionising radiation and working at height.

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

These place a duty on employers to assess all foreseeable risks associated with work activities involving electricity. Employers are required to install safe systems of working, with well-maintained equipment, covering everything from power lines to kettles. All installation and repairs should be undertaken by a qualified electrician or those who have appropriate technical knowledge, though some minor repairs, inspections, fitting of plugs, etc may be undertaken by suitably trained staff.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 These regulations (often known as the COSHH regulations) require employers to assess and prevent (or at least adequately control) the risks to health from the use of any hazardous substances used in the workplace. A hazardous substance is one which has, by law, to be labelled as 'very toxic', 'toxic', 'harmful', 'irritant' or 'corrosive'. It therefore includes many chemical substances such as paints and cleaning materials, as well as wood dust. The obligations to employers are to:

* assess the risks
* decide what precautions are needed
* take steps to reduce or adequately control exposure to hazardous substances * ensure that control measures are utilised and maintained * monitor exposure
* carry out health surveillance of employees who have been or are likely to be exposed * have in place emergency procedures to deal with accidents/incidents * ensure that employees are properly informed, trained and supervised.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
These regulations set out minimum standards for the use of equipment at work. The main requirements are for employers to:
* take account of working conditions and hazards when selecting equipment * provide work equipment which conforms to relevant safety standards * ensure that the work equipment is suitable for its intended purpose and used only for that purpose * maintain and keep the equipment in good working order

* ensure that appropriate safety devices are available, if required * issue staff with appropriate instructions, training and supervision to use the work equipment safely * make sure that equipment is inspected after installation or after assembly at a new location.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
These regulations cover the planning and management of construction projects. An essential part of a project's development is health and safety. Consequently, there is a duty on those involved in a construction project, such as the controller of buildings (ie the LA/governing body/headteacher/principal), contractors and designers to cooperate with each other to identify risks early on, and to report matters that...
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