Workplaces can be highly dangerous places, packed with hazards and risks that must be safely navigated. Under UK legislation, both employers and employees have duties to ensure that the workplace remains safe for staff and visitors alike.
In this article, we will explore the health and safety six-pack regulations. Discussing each regulation in turn, we will describe the duties it imposes on employers and how this protects employees from harm.
What are the Health & Safety Regulations in the UK?
The “Six Pack Regulations” refers to the main health and safety regulations in the UK. They came into effect following the EU directives issued as far back as 1993, and they dictate how both employees and the general public should be kept safe in the workplace.
The Health and Safety six-pack includes:
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
- Manual Handling Operations Regulations
- Display Screen Equipment Regulations
- Workplace (Health, Safety, and Welfare) Regulations
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations
This collection of healthy and safety regulations is essential, as it supports and further enforces the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation was introduced to reinforce the Health and Safety Act 1974. It provides an overarching outline of what both employers and employees must do to manage health and safety in the workplace.
The primary duty imposed on employers by the Health and Safety at Work Regulations is the responsibility to undertake risk assessments. This means that the employer must identify potential hazards to anyone who may be affected by work activity. If an employer has five or more employees, they must record any significant findings.
Employers are also required to appoint at least one competent person to effectively manage health and safety procedures. This person must oversee and assist with all matters of health and safety, ensuring that the employer complies with all legislation.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 further dictate that employees must be provided with all essential safety information in a digestible format. They must also receive adequate health and safety training, and should never have to complete tasks beyond their competence or capabilities.
These regulations are mostly targeted towards employers, however, there are some stipulated obligations for employees. These include:
- Reporting any health and safety concerns
- Reporting dangerous situations, incidents, and accidents
- Using equipment in line with any training and instruction provided
- Taking reasonable care of both their own and other’s health and safety
Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations define manual handling as “any transporting or supporting of a load … by hand or bodily force”. This includes lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, etc. Under the regulations, the meaning of a “load” is broad and applies to objects, animals, and people.
Employers are required to apply appropriate control measures to reduce and eliminate the risk of injury from manual handling. The Manual Handling Regulations set out a three-step approach that employers should follow:
- Avoid the need for any hazardous manual handling operations “so far as is reasonably practicable”
- If manual handling cannot be avoided, assess the risks involved
- Reduce the risk of injury
The Manual Handling Regulations dictate that it is the employer’s duty to consider whether manual handling is needed. Where possible, employers should find an alternative to manual handling such as by redesigning tasks, utilising mechanisation, or breaking down loads into manageable units.
If manual handling tasks cannot be avoided, the employer must then analyse and assess the risk factors involved. There are many risks associated with manual handling, including the:
- Task at hand;
- Type of loads handled, including the size and weight;
- Working environment, such as the amount of space; and
- Individual capabilities of employees.
From here, the employer has a duty to reduce the risk of injury by implementing safe systems. Based on the risk assessment, procedures should be created to reduce manual handling to its lowest practicable level. Where manual handling is needed, the employer must provide information on the weight of each load along with where its heaviest side is to prevent dropping and injury.
Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
The Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 aim to protect employees from the health risks associated with display screen equipment (DSE). DSE is classed as any alphanumeric or graphic display screen. This includes desktop monitors, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
DSE workstations are known to cause problems with neck, shoulder, back, and arm pain. The use of DSE is also associated with fatigue and eye strain. The Healthy and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations, therefore, help to reduce the effects of regularly using DSE.
The provisions of Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 dictate that employers must carry out a risk assessment of every workstation. Employers should also provide DSE users with adequate health and safety training for any workstation they use. This includes demonstrating how to properly adjust chairs and desks, as well as showing the correct way to sit at the workstation.
Employers must also ensure that employees take regular, adequate breaks from looking at the screen. This can involve completing an alternative task, either at their desk or in a different location. The length of the break will vary depending on the results of the risk assessment, however, on average breaks should be taken between every 30 minutes to an hour.
Under these DSE regulations, employees are entitled to request yearly eye tests. Employers are required to pay for these eye tests for all regular DSE users and should make their employees aware of this right. A “competent” person must carry out the eye test, meaning a qualified optician should be contacted. Employers are advised to keep a written record of who receive free eye test, as well as the dates and costs.
Workplace (Health, Safety, and Welfare) Regulations 1992
These regulations cover almost all basic health, safety, and welfare issues. The Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations apply to most workplaces, however, some workplaces are exempt. This includes construction sites, ships, and some areas of mines.
The Workplace Health, Safety, and Welfare Regulations reinforce the stance that employers have a duty of care to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their employees at work. It also demonstrates that those in control of non-domestic properties have a duty to protect anyone who uses their premises, including visitors.
One of the main requirements of these regulations is the obligation to provide adequate welfare facilities. Employees must have adequate lighting, heating, and ventilation in the workplace, as well as enough workspace to complete their tasks. All workplaces should be kept in a clean condition.
Staff facilities must also be kept clean and tidy. Employers must provide toilets and sanitary conveniences, as well as washing and changing facilities. Clean drinking water and a place to rest and eat meals must also be provided.
To keep the workplace safe, the employer must maintain all facilities. This includes creating safe passageways by preventing slipping or tripping hazards. All moving walkways, escalators, gates, and doors must be regularly checked and maintained.
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, also referred to as PUWER, protect workers from unsafe machinery and work equipment. They place responsibilities on anyone who owns, operates, or has control over work equipment.
Work equipment is generally described as “machinery, appliances, apparatuses, or tools” and includes any components or assembly. Examples of machinery include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Vehicles including cars, buses, vans, or trucks
- Lifts, revolving doors, escalators, and moving walkways
- Hand tools like hammers, chisels, screwdrivers, or spanners
- Portable electrical equipment like vacuums, polishing machines, or heaters
- Fixed machines such as photocopiers, vending machines, or power presses
- Computers including any display screen equipment and printers
Anyone who supplies work equipment, such as an employer or business owner, must ensure that it meets the requirements of the Work Equipment Regulations. It must be suitable for use, maintained in a safe condition, and thoroughly inspected.
Any inspections must be carried out by a competent person and a record must be kept until its next inspection. For high-risk equipment, this examination must be completed by a trained individual. In some circumstances, for lower-risk and simple work equipment, the competent person may be an employee as long as they have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to perform the required visual inspection.
It is important to note that employees should also be provided with training when being appointed as a competent person. Anyone who uses the equipment should also be adequately trained on how to use it as well as how to handle any foreseeable problems that can arise from using the equipment.
Personal Protective Equipment At Work Regulations 1992
Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations, employers are given basic duties regarding the provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the workplace.
The PPE regulations define PPE as “all equipment … which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects him against or more risks to his health and safety”. Examples of types of PPE at work include:
- Safety helmets
- Goggles and eye protection
- Steel toe boots and other safety footwear
- Safety harnesses
Employees must be provided with and use PPE whenever there are risks to health and safety that cannot adequately be controlled by other means. Under the PPE at Work regulations, employers must ensure that all PPE is properly assessed before use to ensure that it is suitable for the tasks at hand. This involves performing thorough risk assessments and exploring alternative ways of working, making the provision of PPE a last resort.
It is also required that all PPE is stored correctly and properly maintained. Any staff required to use PPE must be provided with training and instructions on how to use the PPE safely. Under the PPE regulations, employees are required to use the equipment safely and appropriately.
Despite all the laws and regulations in place, sometimes accidents and injuries in the workplace still happen. From employers not implementing sufficient safety procedures to receiving inadequate training, plenty of things can go wrong.
If you’ve been involved in an accident at work that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with our experienced personal injury team today, who can assess whether you have a claim and advise you on what to do next.