The Health and Safety At Work Act 1974
When it comes to health and safety, either in the classroom or in the working environment, we must know about it! We also need to act upon it. We have to keep our workers and learners safe. So what is the health and safety at work act? That’s where we come in! We’re going to go through what it is and why it matters to you as an assessor, trainer or tutor.
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) refers to the Act concerning health and safety at work. Is a massive piece of legislation that governs workplace health and safety in Great Britain. As the bill is massive, there are a few very important sections and we’re going to outline them for you. So sit back and read!
This section is only going to be short, we need to understand some history of the act to fully understand it. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, there weren’t many mandatory rules and regulations for businesses. Take factory work and mines. They were extremely dangerous to work in. Even sewing mills were hard to work in when there were no regulations. Several dangerous events took place in some factories, resulting in fires. Thus in 1974, the Health and Safety at Work Act was created. The act encompassed safe working conditions for anyone within a workplace environment. Without this act, we wouldn’t have the safe working environments that we have today.
So what are the main sections of the act?
The first part of the act regulates workplace health, safety and welfare. It aims to protect people from injury or illness by ensuring employees’ health, safety and welfare at work, protecting non-employees against health and safety risks, and controlling the storage and use of explosive, highly flammable or dangerous substances. That each responsibility falls on employers and employees.
Employers have a duty of care to protect their employee’s health and well-being, as well as the members of the public, visitors and contractors. Some responsibilities that employers have are:
- Maintaining equipment and other systems to ensure people’s safety
- Provide adequate training and information on how to carry out work processes in a safe manner
- Provide a safe place to work
- Provide a safe working environment
- Develop a health and safety policy
- Perform risk assessments
- Work with health and safety experts when needed
- Provide proper facilities
Employers need to follow some main steps as well. These steps could include, deciding how workers could be harmed. Additionally, to work out precautions to avoid this harm. As an employer, you will need to report any dangerous incidents and provide any insurance for workers. You need to provide proper facilities as well, this is the basics, such as toilets, clean drinking water, heating and air conditioning. If you provide a kitchen area for your employees, you need to make sure that any and all appliances are checked and maintained.
There are a few things employees need to follow when it comes to health and safety. These are:
- Adhere to any and all training
- Be cautious for yourself and others
- Cooperate with employers on health and safety
- And report anything if you think it may risk someone
Employees should speak out if they’re not going to be safe within an environment. Whether you’re working in a factory or a school. So how can you keep environments safe?
Keeping environments safe
Keeping and maintaining a safe working environment is paramount for any organisation. It’s more than just putting up a few posters and maybe a training session once in a blue moon. You need to have a strong safety culture year-round. So here are a few ways to keep your environment safe, regardless of what industry you work in.
- Maintain any equipment so that it works correctly
- If you find a defect in anything, e.g. an appliance, put it right
- Have enough space for safe moving and access
- Ensure floors, hallways and staircases are free from obstacles
- Make sure any and all windows are capable of being opened and closed or adjusted safely
- Minimise risks in snowy or wet conditions in outdoor spaces, by use of salt, sand or sweeping
- Have good light to try and avoid glare
- Provide a good level of lighting at workstations when necessary
- Make certain there are emergency lights
- Have well-lit stairs and hallways
- Provide safe passages for pedestrians and vehicles
- Try and have level even floors and surfaces (sometimes this can be hard outside)
- Equip any hand-rails on stairs and ramps where necessary
- Properly maintained floors, so they’re not slippery.
- Also, provide clean floors and stairs
- As well as clean premises and furniture
- Arrange containers for waste materials
- Clean up spillages when necessary and have signs
- Cables! Try and keep cables out of the way to prevent tripping hazards
Keeping up with risks
Now, these are only a few ways to keep an environment safe! There are so many more ways, it all depends on what you may think is applicable to you! If you work in an education setting, your health and safety precautions might be different to someone who works on a construction site. So be aware that not everything may apply to you, but be cautious of what will. As well, welcome your employees coming to you about any risks that they might see, we don’t all think the same way, so they might see something as a risk that you might not.
So why does it matter to you as an assessor? Well considering you’re going to be in an education setting or a workplace setting, you need to know how you can keep your learners safe. If you feel like they’re going to be put at risk you need to know how you can stop that and provide a safe and secure environment for them to work and train in.
Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.