The Management of Health and Safety At Work Regulations 1999
The Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations, also known as the Management regs or MHSWR, came into use on the 29th of December 1999. It is an important piece of health and safety law and reinforces the health and safety act 1974. What does that actually mean? When you visit the government website to view the regulations, it’s all very confusing. So we wanted to explain it in a more simple and easy way.
Health and Safety at Work
Specifically, it outlines what employers must do to manage health and safety and must apply to all work activities. The Health and Safety at Work Act outlines the general duties of employers, the self-employed and employees. Whereas the management regulations are a lot more specific. They are about what the groups of people need to do to protect the health and safety of people whilst at work. The regulations apply to every industry.
Some of the regulations may overlap with other specific regulations. Such as the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) regulations. If an overlap occurs between two regulations, if the employer complies with the more specific regulation, it will more than likely be sufficient for the management of regulations. We’re only going to look into a few of the regulations that are the most important to you.
Regulation 3- Risk Assessments
This regulation is extremely important as it covers risk assessments. They mention in the regulations about having a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks. That’s a bit jargony, so what does it mean? According to the HSE, suitable and sufficient means that:
- A proper check was made
- There is an assessment of who may be affected by the situation
- Given the number of people who could be affected, it covers all obvious significant risks
- The precautions are reasonable
- A risk assessment process was conducted with the participation of workers or their representatives.
Regulation 3 places a legal duty of care onto employers to carry out risk assessments to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees. The activities of their workplace may also affect others. Such as members of the public, contractors, visitors to the premises or if they’re working on the client’s premises. A risk assessment must be documented if an employer has five or more employees. The employer needs to identify any groups of people, especially at risk. Risk assessments need to consider young people (those under 18) where necessary.
Employers also have a duty to review a risk assessment if they believe it’s no longer valid, or if there has been a significant change. There could be a change in the way the work is completed, a change in the type of machinery or tools used, a change in the use of hazardous substances or a change in the health of employees.
The regulation, also places a legal duty of care onto self-employed people, to assess the risks to their health and safety. Their work activities may also have an effect on the health and safety of others. Like with employers, self-employed people need to review the risk assessments.
Regulation 4- Principles of Prevention
This regulation details the order in which employers should consider when they’re implementing control measures. You begin at the top of the list with something pretty standard, to avoid the risk altogether if possible. Is there a different way to complete the work, for example? If it’s not possible, you would work down the principles of prevention list. Also known as the Hierarchy of Risk Control. It includes these steps:
- Engineering controls
- Reduced or limited exposure
- Good Housekeeping
- Safe systems of work
- Training and information
- Maintaining and supervision
The list can also be a derivation of this list as a hierarchy of controls.
- Avoiding risks
- Evaluating risks that can’t be avoided
- Combating the risks at the source.
- Adapting the work to the individual. In regards to the design of the workplace, choice of work equipment and the choice of working
- Adapting technical progress
- Replacing the dangerous with the non-dangerous or less dangerous,
- Developing a coherent prevention policy, which covers multiple things,
- Giving collective protective measures and
- Giving appropriate instructions to employees.
Regulation 5- Health and Safety Arrangements
In regulation 5 it states that every employer shall make appropriate health and safety arrangements. Additionally, they need to be suitable in terms of the size of the organisation and the nature of the organisation’s activities. You need to have an effective plan for preventative and protective measures. Furthermore, you need a health and safety arrangement. You can find this information in the health and safety policy. A health and safety policy would also contain the organisation’s health and safety statement of intent and a responsibilities section.
If an employer has 5 or more employees, this information needs to be recorded. However, if they have less than 5, they still need to have health and safety arrangements in place, the employer doesn’t need to record the information.
Regulation 6- Health Surveillance
Regulation 6 states that all employers shall ensure that employees are provided with appropriate health surveillance, as identified in the risk assessment. The HSE stated that health surveillance is a ‘system of ongoing health checks.’ As well as that ‘health checks may be required by law, for employees who are exposed to noise or vibration, radiation, fumes or dust, biological agents or any other hazardous substances.’ Furthermore, health surveillance is an excellent way to ensure the control measures you’ve implemented are working. In order to detect signs of illness early, a health programme is essential. Hence, long-term exposure can be prevented through better control measures.
Regulation 7- Health and Safety Assistance
The law requires employers to appoint competent people to assist them in fulfilling their health, safety, and welfare responsibilities. A competent person can be the employer, an employee or an external person, such as a health and safety consultant. To be a competent person, they need to have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience. Just to note, even if the employer themselves appoints a competent person, the employer themselves still has the overall legal duty of care for health and safety in the organisation.
Regulation 14- Employees’ duties
Employers aren’t the only ones who have a legal duty of care under the regulations, employees have a legal duty as well. It states that employees must:
- Ensure all machinery, equipment, substances, and safety devices are used in accordance with the employer’s training.
- Inform employers or the workplace safety representative about any serious or immediate health and safety dangers or any shortcomings in the employer’s health and safety arrangements.
Regulation 15- Temporary Workers
Regulation 15 is concerning the health and safety of temporary workers. It puts a legal duty of care onto employers and self-employed people to provide certain things for temporary workers before they start work. They are:
- Provide information about occupational qualifications and skills needed for the role,
- Information about health surveillance required
- Information about parts of the role which can affect their health and safety.
Regulation 16- New and Expectant Mothers
Employers need to consider new and expectant mothers when carrying out their general risk assessments. Employers need to control potential risks for the expectant mother and the unborn child. They also need to do a risk assessment for hazards from any work processes, working conditions, and biological or chemical agents. Employers must take the following steps if a significant risk is identified:
- Adjust the employees working conditions or hours to remove the risk
- Give the employee suitable alternative work on the same terms and conditions
- Suspend employee on paid leave.
Regulation 19- Young People
This regulation covers occupational health and safety of young people (employees under the age of 18) and children (a person under school leaving age). Employees under 18 years old can be vulnerable due to ‘lack of experience, or absence of awareness of risks.’
The regulations list covers potential hazards that employees under 18 years of age should not be exposed to. This also includes doing work beyond their physical or psychological capacity, harmful exposure to agents as well as harmful exposure to radiation, extreme hot or cold heat, noise or vibration. There are, however, certain circumstances when a young person (not a child) can be exposed to the hazards mentioned. A competent person will supervise them if necessary for their training. As well as the risk being lowered to as reasonably as possible.
A legal duty of care is placed on the employers to carry out risk assessments before a young person starts work and ensures that adequate control measures are implemented.
Be aware of any changes that the regulations may go through. It’s a good idea to review them often just in case anything major has changed. You don’t want to be outside of any regulations, so you need to take action if anything does change. It’s also important as assessors to know about the regulations and how it may affect you in your chosen industry and how to keep employees and learners safe.
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.