The aim of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA 1974) was to create a single comprehensive system of regulatory law covering occupationalin Great Britain. HSWA 1974 imposes various general duties upon both employers and employees and its three primary objectives are to:
Employers owe the following duties to their employees:
There are also limited duties owed to persons who are not employees:
There is duty on any person who designs, manufactures, imports or supplies any article for use at work to ensure:
In the early days HSWA 1974 created two governing authorities: The Health and Safety Commission and the Health and Safety Executive.
On April 1st 2008, both authorities were merged to form the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The idea of the merger was to bring the governing arrangements for both the commission and the executive in line with practice and provide a more robust governing framework. The HSE performs its functions on behalf of the Crown. Its main role and functions include:
It is the duty and responsibility of the HSE to make adequate arrangements for the enforcement of health and safety legislation. The Secretary of State has the power to establish provisions that allow other authorities or bodies (e.g., local authorities) to take responsibility for health and safety enforcement. There is a duty on both the HSE and the local authority to ensure that:
Section 20 of HSWA 1974 provides inspectors with a wide range of powers to ensure health and safety legislation is complied with. Inspectors have the power to:
Inspectors are authorised to serve Improvement and Prohibition Notices on persons who they believe are breaching HSWA 1974. Both types of notices may be served without resorting to criminal proceedings so long as the individual complies. However, failure to comply with either notice is a.
Section 21 gives an inspector the power to issue an Improvement Notice on an individual who is breaching or has breached one or more of the relevant statutory provisions. The notice must state the reasons why the inspector has issued the notice, require the person to remedy the breach or the matters occasioning it; specify the period for compliance (which should be not less than 21 days from the date of service of the notice) and that they have the right to appeal.
Section 22 gives an inspector the power to issue a Prohibition Notice on an individual who carries out activities which may involve a risk of serious injury at work to another. A prohibition notice must:
Anyone served with a notice may appeal to an. Where Improvement Notices are concerned, instigating the process of an appeal will suspend the operation of the notice until the appeal is finally disposed of. In the case of a Prohibition Notice, instigating an appeal does not automatically suspend its operation. The appellant may, however, apply to the employment tribunal for a direction suspending operation of the notice until the appeal is heard. The tribunal has the power to cancel or affirm the notice. If the tribunal affirms the notice, they may do so in its original form or modify it as it thinks fit.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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