The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 is one of the main pieces of legislation covering workplace health and safety in the UK. This guide outlines what it means for employers and employees.
Workplaces can be dangerous environments. In 2019/20, 693,000 people were injured at work in the UK and 111 employees were killed. As well as the personal cost to the people affected, businesses lost 38.8m working days to illnesses and injuries.
These figures show just how vital health and safety management is.
Employers have legal obligations for dealing with any risks and employees have responsibilities too for keeping workplaces safe. The costs for not complying can be high, in terms of people being injured or losing their lives, the penalties imposed and the damage to an organisation’s reputation.
Understand your responsibilities under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the importance of a risk assessment in keeping employees, customers and others in your workplace safe with our managing safely training course.
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, also known as the ‘Management Regs’, were created under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to meet the requirements of European Directives. The Regulations set out the framework for managing health and safety and places an explicit legal duty on employers to assess and manage health and safety risks in the workplace.
The minimum requirements are that processes and procedures should exist to meet the general legal obligations that have existed for many decades.
The management system should include assessment of the risks to employees, customers, contractors and anyone one else who comes into contact with the organisation, a health and safety policy and arrangements (written down and recorded if the business has five or more employees), appointing a competent person/s to assist management with advice and guidance about workplace health and safety requirements and ensuring employees and managers are competent following managing safety training.
The regulations are enforced by Health and Safety Executive inspectors or local authority officials such as Environmental Health Officers. Inspectors may visit an organisation following an employee complaint or concern, as part of a general health and safety promotional campaign or following an accident, ill health or incident that might have been reported under the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).
Inspectors have the legal right to enter a premises and speak to employees and safety representatives. They can examine any part of the organisation including equipment, machinery and substances, and can issue enforcement notices. Their actions range from verbal or written advice to a formal caution such as an improvement notice, prohibition notice or commence proceedings that may lead to prosecution. The penalties for the most serious health and safety offences are unlimited fines or up to two years in prison.
If you break health and safety laws, the Health and Safety Executive may also charge a fee to cover its costs for investigating and taking enforcement action.
What are employers’ responsibilities?
It is important for employers to encourage a positive health and safety culture in the workplace. Not only is it the law but it will also help to improve relationships with employees, suppliers and customers, reduce insurance costs and enhance an organisation’s reputation.
Employers must regularly assess the risks in their workplace and put a plan in place to control them and check that the controls and systems are effective. A risk assessment should follow these steps:
- Identify the hazards and risks that could cause illness or injury.
- Decide who could be harmed and how seriously.
- Come up with measures to remove the hazards or control the risks.
- Record the findings and implement the precautions.
- Review the assessment to ensure it remains effective.
The regulations require that risk assessments and other health and safety activities be carried out by a competent person appointed by the employer. This is likely to be senior employees or managers, but in larger organisations external health and safety experts may be required.
A competent person should have the skills and knowledge to recognise workplace hazards. It can be one person or more than one. Formal qualifications are not specifically required but depending on the risks and complexity and size of the organisation then a qualification may be essential to meet assessed competency requirements. Managing safety training is recommended to ensure competence and understanding of responsibilities and how to implement the management system.
All employees must be aware of workplace hazards and risks so every worker should receive health and safety training that’s relevant to their job and risk profile. That could include regular general training days, toolbox days or on-the-job training on how to safely operate a piece of equipment. Employees should always have access to health and safety information via, for example, a company intranet or employee manual.
All employers are required by law to have a policy and organisational arrangements for managing health and safety. It should outline your general approach for managing risks and who is responsible for health and safety matters, and when and how they will do it.
If an organisation has five or more employees, the policy must be written down. Although organisations with less than five employees do not have to write it down, the Health and Safety Executive says it is useful to do so.
A health and safety policy must be shared with employees and they must be informed if anything changes.
What are employees’ duties?
Employees play an important role in effective workplace health and safety. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employees are required to use any machinery, equipment and substance in accordance with training and instruction.
They must also inform their employer or someone else who is responsible for health and safety of any workplace dangers or shortcomings in the organisation’s safety practices.
As a general rule, employees should take reasonable care of their own health and safety at all times and be aware of how their actions could affect the safety of others.
The importance of health and safety training
Providing health and safety training to your workforce is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and employers risk penalties for failing to properly provide it. All employees should be aware of risks and how to manage them. Training should be relevant and based on a training needs analysis referencing the findings of the organisation’s risk assessment and control. Training must also be undertaken in works time or paid overtime to attend and refresher training must be provided and programmed in as part of the organisation’s management processes.
Training is particularly important for managers and supervisors with responsibility for a group of employees. They should be aware of areas such as risk assessments, their responsibilities set out in the management system and how to monitor and check that workplace precautions are in place and work activities are being carried out safely through inspections and performance management.
Our Managing Safety Training online course ensures that employees have the knowledge and understanding of what is required to manage safety in their area of responsibility.