1.1 Describe current legislation relating to health and safety in own work setting

Course: NVQ Level 4 Diploma In Health And Social Care (RQF)

Unit 8: Health and safety in health and social care settings

LO1: Understand own responsibilities, and the responsibilities of others, relating to health and safety

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1.1 Describe current legislation relating to health and safety in own work setting

There is a lot of health and safety legislation in place that relates to the workplace. The most important piece of legislation is probably the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which sets out general duties that employers have to their employees with regards to health and safety.

Other important pieces of legislation include the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which place specific duties on employers with regards to managing health and safety, and the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, which require employers to report certain injuries, diseases, and dangerous occurrences.

In addition to the Health and Safety Executive, which regulates much of this legislation, specific legislation relating to particular activities is also in place. For example, the Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction etc.) Regulations 1996 apply to offshore installations and wells.

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to take certain steps with regards to first aid provision at work, which include appointing a suitable person as the “competent person” for first-aid matters; providing suitable equipment; obtaining sufficient information about hazards; having effective systems of work; ensuring that employees are trained; and more.

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What legislation is in place to ensure health and safety in the workplace?

This legislation is in place to ensure health and safety in the work place. It was initially introduced as a response to the growing number of avoidable incidents that were resulting in deaths or serious injury as well as minimizing risks during employment. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides general guidance and acts as a regulator of the Act. This is later brought together in HSE`s “What`s the Risk?” publication which provides businesses with information on how to manage health and safety, or explain why it is not necessary.

The current legislation states: Your responsibilities: Make sure you do not put anyone at risk from work activities, eg by exposure to hazardous substances or other dangers. You must follow legal requirements for managing work activities that involve risk. This includes keeping working areas and equipment safe.

  • You have a duty of care towards your employees which means you need to protect their health and safety while carrying out assigned tasks at the workplace. 
  • Any equipment or machinery used should be suitable for the job and well maintained.
  • If you have a health and safety rep elected by employees, their role is to discuss concerns with you.
  • You should provide training for anyone whose work could affect others, eg giving instructions or training on using equipment that may prove dangerous if not used correctly. You must also, provide information, instruction and training to people who are newly employed or move into new roles.
  • You should be able to prove you have suitable first aid facilities in the workplace.
  • Employees should not just rely on their first aid knowledge but also receive first aid training so they can give anyone first aid until paramedics arrive. The Act states that

How does this legislation protect employees, and what are the consequences for businesses that don’t comply?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 provides a general duty of care which is the main basis for all other health and safety regulations. This states that employers must ensure, as far as reasonably practicable (which means what is practical given the limitations of time, money and resources) the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees. The consequences for businesses that fail to comply with the legislation include fines and imprisonment.

  • Employees must receive information, instruction and training or they should be aware of standard procedures. You should make sure employees are trained before they do jobs that could put their safety at risk (that is, through exposure to hazards).
  • You need to provide first aid facilities and trained first aiders who should only be relieved by other trained people such as paramedics.
  • You must ensure work equipment is safe and suitable for its purpose, and should be regularly inspected and maintained to prevent danger.

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Are there any changes or updates to this legislation that are planned or being considered currently?

HSE is currently consulting on proposals to amend Regulations 33, 34 and 36 of Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

This legislation doesn’t just protect employees but also visitors, members of the public and contractors working within the workplace. It also brings in new duties that businesses need to consider on top of current responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. These include:

  • Include a duty for clients entering into work contracts with design and/or build contractors (which would be automatically extended to any subcontractors involved) to provide ‘relevant information’ about the site which may affect the health and safety of anyone at the workplace, to ensure the contractor has sufficient time to plan for work activities.
  • Designers or build contractors must make enquiries about ‘potentially dangerous’ substances (prescribed in regulation 36) located on site to determine what precautions need to be taken before design/build contracts are entered into.
  • A new requirement for design/build contractors to establish a ‘baseline’ assessment of risks as part of the project’s overall risk assessment to allow for ongoing risk management during the life cycle of the project.

How do you think this legislation could be improved, or what else could be done to ensure the safety of employees in the workplace?

I think this legislation has good intentions of keeping employees safe, but the guidance of it is unclear and confusing. With so many different types of business existing within the UK, what might be suitable for some companies may not suit others. I would like to see more clarity around what businesses are required to do under health and safety legislation, without restricting the autonomy of businesses to make decisions over their own health and safety procedures.

In many high risk industries, such as construction sites, why isn’t there a requirement for first aiders to wait until paramedics arrive before an injured employee can be relieved? If someone is fatally or seriously injured, seconds count and it could be minutes before emergency services arrive – a first aider may be able to provide crucial first aid that could save a life.

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