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The Health and Safety at Work 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.
The HSE has many divisions that cover the industries from nuclear power, agriculture, railways to construction. The act was put in place to represent and look after employees, employers and self employed throughout any type of industry or workplace. It is most prevalent and credible in the civil engineering and construction industries. Management has a key role and responsibility to play when it comes to H&S (health and safety) and in order to relay this effectively to the workplace, regular meetings with the employer, the workforce and key members of management in the construction phase are needed this being the main contractor, employer and the planning supervisor are needed.
One of the main duties of the employer is to consult and cooperate with employees on safety measures, this meaning any safety aspect of the workplace should for good practice be discussed with the employees who use the machinery or will need to use the machinery. Such as a brick layer will discuss safety measures and responsibilities with the employer for example using appropriate footway, steel cap boots and gloves to protect his hands. The employer under the health and safety act should provide these free of charge and have a booklet giving new employees what you must ware to comply with regulations of the government. This is very time consuming however a great strength of the act is as it ensures everyone is trained.
Another important duty to conclude is to ensure all employees have the relevant training and supervision to complete their job safely with the equipment their using. An example of this hedge trimmer for example needs training in strumming and if the hedge row is on highway he'll need adequate safety on highways certificate or he won't be able to work on highway land. Therefore the employer will have to set up necessary training and procedures into practice to reduce the risk of injury. More often than not a health and safety advisor will visit various sites to ensure the right safety precautions are in place and the safety policy implemented is accurate and efficient, this is often looked at as a weakness to the act as it slows down work the fore wastes money as people are constantly felt they are being under watch.
Another responsibility the employer has bestowed on him is preparing the health and safety file and notifying the H&S Executive about the works and that the F10 is displayed in a prominent position for the whole of the workforce to see from the client to the builder. Under the contractor he is responsible for the majority of the workforce out on site this including bricklayers, builders, roofers, sub contractors etc. However subcontractors also have sum liability on there shoulders although they are not directly in charge of any of the workforce except their own little teams they do have to contribute to the health and safety which is provide method statements and risk assessments to the employer and client to ensure it is accurately stored and made a record of any problems, risks or potential hazards. A method statement details how company is going to undertake the work, what it will use and what precautions it will take.
Employers have duties to carry out their own work in a safe and appropriate way. Anyone doing construction work has a duty to cooperate with others on matters of health and safety and report any defects to those in control. One of the general duties is to ensure a safe place of work and safe means of access to and from the place of work, this Regulation sets out a general requirement which applies to all construction work.
Under the Regulation it requires the following:
Plant and Equipment
All plant and equipment should be maintained in a reasonable condition so that it remains safe and without risks to health. Certain equipment eg, cranes/hoists, is subject to statutory inspection.
Ensure that persons who carry out work activities have received adequate training so
that they carry out their work in a safe manner with minimum risks.
Inspection Excavations, cofferdams or caissons must have the place of work inspected before work commences and at regular intervals by a competent person, who must be satisfied that the work can be done safely.
The Employer's roles and responsibilities on a health and safety aspect side are vast and detailed and are required by law in order to comply with government regulations and legislation. One of the main duties of the employer is to ensure a safe environment for all employees; this includes providing safe systems of work, safe handling, storage, training and supervision. They are also obligated to provide a health and safety policy made accessible to everyone that works within the office or officers and any visitors coming in and out of the premises. Another key role the employer has to include in his tasks, such as consulting on safety measures with his/ her employees as well as hold regard for regulations brought up by the safety committees. Another key fact to consider is whether there are relevant and up to date health and safety policy in place.
The employer has a bundle of responsibility especially when it comes to safety and welfare, the employees must also take some aspects into account. Under the HASAWA it states employees must act with due care for themselves as well as cooperating with the employer through such methods as a talk box. This is where everyone stops work for a short period of time and talk about safety aspects of the job they are working on. It is also good practice not to recklessly interfere or misuse anything; this includes equipment and bodily harm.
Self employed such as Subcontractors do not have as such direct contact with health and safety issues however they have to abide by law and be provided with relevant safety information and equipment such as safety glasses, gloves etc to complete the work. They must also complete an initial site induction before they are allowed on site alone and to ensure they are up to speed with all requirements and conditions on site
However like all laws they are regularly updated with new regulations and procedures, this is a massive nuisance in the industry as every year massive amounts of money has to be spent to get new equipment and procedures put in place to cooperate with these new laws other wise they face prosecution! An example of this is tougher powers to HSE inspectors being able to close down the site which will be devastating for the company however it does improve safety as it ensures companies do all they can to ensure the site is safe as possible.
Since this legalisation has come into force in 1981 we can see the fatal injuries gradually declining over the years, this can be seen in the diagram below:
Has it been successful? Well the answer to that is yes and no, yes the injuries have decreased over the years and seem to be a gradual decline and the general welfare and safety has vastly increased over the thirty years to workers including that of employers, employees and self employed however many small and minor injuries often go unreported and unchecked especially in the construction industries so its very unclear to get an accurate result to prove overall injuries have dropped also the graph above shows a few anomalies in the results for example 00/01 has had a massive increase and goes against the overall trend of the graph the result it self is inline with that of the 93/94, trend which is a very high number of fatal accidents that year whats the cause for this? Lack of following health and safety law? Cowboy builders? The most likely reason is a surge in the construction industry due to the fact of a boom in the economy giving more people disposable cash which went on the need of new houses more cars therefore bigger/ new roads, more bridges etc creating hundreds of more jobs in the construction and civil engineering industry therefore increasing the accident rate due to more people being on site has 100 people working one site 1 may get fatally injured but if a 1000 people are now working on that site 10 people may get fatally injured, giving us an explanation to why the deaths have increased that year. However overall due to this government funded law, working within a dangerous industry has greatly improved the well being and safety of all individuals on site
2) Failure to respond with the HSE inspector "notices" can lead to prosecution in court. Discuss when and why notices are issued and what affect they have. Do contractors have any right to disagree with an inspector's decision?
HSE inspectors have many powers given to them by government to prosecute and warn companies who fail to abide to the health and safety at work act. The main object of inspection is to stimulate compliance with health and safety legislation and to ensure that a good standard of protection is maintained. Inspectors have, and make use of, important statutory powers.
They can enter any premises at any time where work is carried out, without giving notice. They can talk to employees and safety representatives, take photographs and samples, and impound dangerous equipment and substances. If they are not satisfied by the levels of health and safety standards being achieved, they have several means of obtaining improvements:
This is often in the form of advice and guidance to employers for example making the site tidy, it is not recorded and merely a conversation takes place between the site manager and the HSE inspector and need to be improved by the next time the inspector comes out to view the site or it will be put into a formal notice or if things gets seriously worse it may go straight to improvement notice or probation notice depending on the severity of the case.
Similar to the informal notice this concurs a warning however this is in writing and sent to the company as well as the site manager to improve works, the HSE inspector will then arrange another site meeting to check it has been acted upon. Failure to comply with this will result in further action.
An improvement notice requires a contravention to be remedied within a specified time, usually 21 days. This also includes a letter detailing problems and a confirmation letter has been done. It is also published on the HSE website so all can see. An improvement notice cannot be used to require a duty holder to do something which has no attainable end within the compliance period. For example, a notice might require a duty holder to provide, by a given date, a guard on a dangerous part of machinery but it cannot require the person to maintain the guard in good condition as this would be an ongoing requirement. A notice can, however, properly require that, by the given date, a suitable system is put into place to ensure that the guard is maintained in an efficient state, efficient working order and good repair. Also a discussion with the duty holder about the notice of how s/he can comply with it. An effort should be made to resolve any points of difference
A prohibition notice is issued if there is a risk of serious personal injury and it requires to be stopped immediately or after a specified time unless remedial action is taken. A prohibition notice may be served on any person in control of a process or a piece of plant subject to the relevant statutory provisions. This includes an employee who may not be aware that the activity is unsafe and is acting in accordance with his/her employer's instructions. In such circumstances, the employer should be contacted to advise them of the situation and the proposed notice. The inspector may consider serving a notice on both employer and employee.
Prosecution in the criminal courts are heard by magistrates who may, for serious offences, impose a maximum fine of £20 000. Some cases are referred to the Crown Court where there is no limit on the fine that may be imposed
There is a right of appeal to an employment tribunal, in this case improvement notices are suspended pending the hearing of the appeal but a prohibition notice remains in force unless the tribunal directs otherwise. . If the person in receipt of the notice decides to appeal they must send notice of the appeal to the employment tribunal within 21 days of service of the improvement or prohibition notice. The effect of an appeal is to suspend an improvement notice. A prohibition notice is not suspended but the appellant can apply to the Tribunal for a direction suspending the operation of the notice until the appeal is finally disposed of or withdrawn. Where a notice has been complied with, the Tribunal may nevertheless decide on its validity. If there is no substance to the appeal, it may be invited to dismiss the appeal. Appellants can decide to proceed with an appeal even after they have complied with the notice, as the service of a notice is a matter of public record which can affect their particular business.
3) The construction and design regulations 2007 provide that the client must make key appointments, explain what their specific duties and responsibilities are. Outline why these appointments must be made and why the timing of their appointment is important. Also provide details of specific examples when the CDM regulations do and don't apply to construction or engineering works.
The construction and design regulations 2007 list details on various rules and regulations of all those involved in the design and construction phase, listed below are a list of the main group involved in the construction and design and there responsibilities:
It's the client's responsibility to demonstrate an acceptable standard of health and safety. This will include appointing a planning supervisor, providing health and safety information and appointing a main contractor. Although these are the main duties often taken by the client before work starts there are a few others that sometimes clients forget or don't realise they have responsibility to do them this includes, a health and safety plan for the construction phase of the works and they must keep and store the health and safety file on completion of the building. They must also ensure:
Designers, contractors and other team members are adequately resourced and appointed early enough for the work they have to do.
They allow sufficient time for each stage of the project, from concept onwards.
They co-operate with others concerned in the project so that other duty holders can comply with their duties under the regulations.
They co-ordinate their own work with others involved with the project in order to ensure the safety of those carrying out the construction work, and others who may be affected by it.
There are reasonable management arrangements in place throughout the project to ensure that the construction work can be carried out.
Contractors have made arrangements for suitable welfare facilities to be provided from the start of the project, and throughout the construction phase.
Any fixed workplaces (e.g. offices, shops, factories, schools) which are to be constructed will comply, in respect of their design and the materials used, with any requirements of the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
Relevant information likely to be needed by designers, contractors or others to plan and manage their work is passed to them in a timely manner in order that they can comply with regulations.
Appoint a Principal Contractor to plan and manage the construction work preferably early enough for them to work with the designer on issues relating to build ability, usability and maintainability.
Ensure that the construction phase does not start until the Principal Contractor has prepared a suitable health and safety plan and made arrangements for suitable welfare facilities to be present from the start of the work.
However Clients only have duties when the project is associated with a business or other undertaking. Domestic clients are a special case and do not have duties under the CDM Regulations 2007.
Under the contractors duties regarding health and safety are as follows; he or she must ensure the cooperation of all contractors on site, ensure the rules set out within the health and safety plan are passed and correct and most importantly prepare the health and safety file. Other duties you may see the contactor doing is making sure everyone on site has permission to be there and ensuring constant contact with the health and safety executive on any matters regarding the subject. Another main issue is ensuring the health and safety policy passes inspection enabling work to commence.
From the Local governments aspect they have general duties such as highways and road safety to take into account anything basically from communal building such as council buildings such as post offices cathedrals castle for example. However if none of these occur and it's a private building such as a factory or private home then they have limited powers but they do have the right to visit the site on the grounds of noise, nuisance or environmental issues, if any complaints are made by local residents or the workforce it self.
Health and Safety Executive
He or she is there as an "overseer" there to provide three simple things, these are:
Advice- help with matters regarding health and safety, how to improve methods in place and in cooperate new methods to the construction. Inspect- check safety certificates, methods in place, the risk of injury etc.
Enforce- if things aren't up to scratch, depending on the seriousness of the particular site then report them or take drastic action which may stop work completely until things are approved.
CDM Co-ordinators have similar roles to the contractor however they consider health and safety issues from the design side of things. There duties include contacting the HSE of the proposed project, they must ensure cooperation between designers ensuring they comply with their duties. There duties include making the client aware, risks within the design concept and ensure adequate information on the risks, cooperate with the planning supervisor and any third party designers. They are also obliged to produce a pre tender health and safety plan is prepared and also check a health and safety plan is prepared. These obligations are good practice and achieved with regular meeting with all those involved.