Explain the legal requirements relating to the management of office facilities

The common law duty of care that an employer owes to his employees prohibits employers from exposing their employees to unnecessary risks when they are at work. This means that employers must act reasonably in the circumstances and comply with all relevant statutory requirements. Employers can be held liable for any injuries which occur as a result of non-compliance.

According to Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) 1974, employers must provide and maintain a safe place of work for employees. The law requires employers to eliminate or reduce risks to their employees’ health and safety arising from the conduct of the employer’s business. Employers must also responsibly plan for emergencies that may occur at their workplace which involve materials or equipment that can harm people. They are required to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the workplace to identify these risks. Employers must also appoint a competent person, who is suitably qualified and experienced, to oversee health and safety at their workplace.

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Employers are legally required to provide:

  • Safety equipment (eye protection etc.) for employees and any necessary training on how to use the equipment.
  • Personal Protective Equipment for employees who are at risk of physical injury from work equipment or processes
  • Safety signs to warn employees of hazards at their workstation and instruct them about safe working practices
  • Emergency Services contact details
  • First Aid facilities, including the name, address, and telephone number of an appropriate medical practitioner who is available to give immediate advice by telephone, the location of first-aid kits at their workplace, and access to them
  • Suitable and Safe toilets for employees, which are also free from any hazards, situated in a suitable position, and have doors that can be kept closed.
  • Suitable changing rooms where necessary (e.g. in cold stores)
  • Safely located or adequately shielded equipment that is not a danger to employees by being inadequately guarded for its intended use.

There are some other regulations and additional requirements as follows:

Electricity at Work Regulations 1989: Employers must make sure that any electrical equipment they provide for their employees meets the requirements of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EWR). They are required to test and inspect electrical equipment to ensure that it is safe. Employers must take the steps necessary to protect workers from electric shocks, fires, or explosions.

Electrical equipment (safety) regulations 1994: Employers must take the necessary steps to ensure that all electrical equipment which they provide for their employees is safe and does not cause injury. All electrical installations in a workplace should be maintained to a high standard by a competent person so as to reduce the risk of danger to workers.

Working time regulations 1998: Employers are required to ensure that their employees work a maximum average of 48 hours per week. Employees are entitled to an uninterrupted rest break of 20 minutes if they have worked for at least six hours, and two uninterrupted rest breaks if they have worked for over eight hours. Employers must comply with these regulations regardless of whether or not their employees are represented by a Trade Union.

Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013: Employers must report any injuries, diseases, and dangerous occurrences that occur in the workplace to the relevant enforcing authority.

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