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The Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations 1989

This Act sets out the general duties which employers have towards employees and members of the public, and employees have to themselves and to each other.

These duties are qualified in the Act by the principle of ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. In other words, an employer does not have to take measures to avoid or reduce the risk if they are technically impossible or if the time, trouble or cost of the measures would be grossly disproportionate to the risk.

What the law requires here is what good management and common sense would lead employers to do anyway: that is, to look at what the risks are and take sensible measures to tackle them.

The main requirement on employers is to carry out a risk assessment. Employers with five or more employees need to record the significant findings of the risk assessment.

Risk assessment should be straightforward in a simple workplace such as a typical office. It should only be complicated if it deals with serious hazards such as those on a nuclear power station, a chemical plant, laboratory or an oil rig.

The HSE leaflet Five steps to risk assessment will give you more information,visit www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg163.pdf and download leaflet INDG163(rev2), revised 06/06. Besides carrying out a risk assessment, employers also need to:

  • Make arrangements for implementing the health and safety measures identified as necessary by the risk assessment.
  • Appoint competent people (often themselves or company colleagues) to help them to implement the arrangements.
  • Set up emergency procedures.
  • Provide clear information and training to employees.
  • Work together with other employers sharing the same workplace.

For more information on these regulations see the web-friendly version of leaflet HSC13(rev1), revised 08/03 which gives a good introduction. Visit www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hsc13.pdf to download Health and safety regulation...... a short guide.

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