After many years of totally disjointed safety law where one set of rules applied to one type of business and a different set applied to other businesses the UK government got its act together in 1974 and passed a law which is the nearest thing to saying “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (as God once said to Moses, Leviticus 19:18).
The Health and Safety at Work act 1974 requires every employer to:
- Secure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work;
- Protect persons who are not at work from risks to their health and safety arising from work activities.
But there are a very large number of documents including Approved Codes of Practice, Guidance and Information telling employers what they must do keep their workers (employees, agency staff, contractors) safe and to keep their neighbours safe.
HSG268 Health and Safety Toolbox is a useful document which gives an overview of the safety rules for most businesses with references to sources of additional information. Like most documents published by the Health and Safety Executive it can be downloaded at no charge from their website.
Health and safety is not just the responsibility of management, all workers need to be aware of their duties under the act and also their rights. If you have a safety committee you should give a copy to each member, as part of their health and safety training. You could also make a copy available in the tea room so anyone can read it.
Contact me if you would like assistance in writing or updating your health and safty policy and risk assessments (including fire risk), and identifying the legal requirements which you must comply with.
For further information refer to my article on safety management on the CQI website.