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Management of Health and Safety of Work (MHSW) Regulations, 1999 (2)

MHSW Regulations have been effective since December 1999. These Regulations are in addition to the duties laid down under Health and Safety of Work Act 1974:

The article will be useful reading if you are;

  • A safety representative;
  • A health and safety professional or;
  • Interested in health and safety.

Introduction

The MHSW regulations have been put in place in order that you take care of all those you work in conjunction with – employees, contractors, clients or customers. The aim of the regulations is to reduce damage by assessing all potential risks and to create action plans for emergencies.

Compliance with industry specific regulations will normally be sufficient. However, where MHSW Regulations go further than those of more specific legislation, extra measures will be required in order to comply.

Who do the regulations apply to?

Employers have a duty to asses all risks for all workers, including mobile and home workers Seafarers and young people performing temporary or short-term work in family businesses or domestic service are exempt from protection.

A summary of the regulations: (for employers):

  • You must review risk assessments periodically and make modifications if there are any significant changes in working practices or equipment
  • If safety procedures can ever be improved, appropriate steps should be taken accordingly.
  • You are expected to take reasonable steps to familiarise yourself with the hazards and risks in your workplace
  • Work must be organised. A set pattern of rules and regulations usually means more systematic work and less chance of accidents
  • Training should be given in such a way that hazardous situations can be avoided. For example: Lengthening of working day, removal of taking screening breaks etc for meeting  deadlines should be avoided.
  • You must ensure that the significant hazards are identified, and that the actual working practices are addressed and if need be, changed so as to reduce any risk.

We suggest that:

  • If the use of advanced technology helps in reducing risks, make use of it;
  • Your employees should do the work that best suits them;
  • Risk prevention should also show in your business policies which would in turn show how serious you are in ensuring the health and safety of your employees;
  • Give priority to those measures which protect the whole workplace and all those who work there; i.e. give collective protective measures priority over individual measures.
  • The existence of an active health and safety policy or culture needs to be assured.

Safety representatives

There are numerous references to the role of safety representatives and other employee representatives in the guidance with stronger indications that consultation with representatives is required.

Carrying out assessments

Employers should select employees to perform health and safety tasks such as planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of health and safety arrangements. Employers are encouraged to take into account the views of employees and safety representatives.

You should select the most competent employees for the job. External specialists can be used if required or a combination of internal and external personnel may be appropriate. Mistakes by competent persons do not free employers from liability for breaches of statutory duty.

Employers must maintain contact with external services particularly first aid and emergency services who provide medical care and rescue work. Employers should establish written procedures for workers to follow when faced with serious and imminent danger and which acknowledge that situations arise when workers must act on their own initiative in proceeding to safety. Employers should explain clearly when workers should stop work and move to a place of safety.

What an assessment must include

There is a greater detail required in the new regulations. Risk assessments should identify the period of time for which they will remain valid. They should take account of the views of employees and safety representatives. A risk assessment should now:

  • Identify hazards;
  • Identify who might be harmed and how;
  • Evaluate the risks from the identified hazards;
  • Record the significant findings in a retrievable form, and;
  • Provide for review and revision.

The record should be retrievable for use by the employer in reviews and for safety representatives and other employee representatives and visiting inspectors.

Preventive and protective measures

The regulations focus on preventive and protective measures. These include:

  • Avoiding risks;
  • Evaluating risks which cannot be avoided;
  • Combating risks at source;
  • Adapting work to the individual, especially as regards the design of workplaces, the choice of work equipment and the choice of working and production methods, with a view, in particular, to alleviating monotonous work and work at a pre-determined work-rate and to reducing their effect on health;
  • Adapting to technical progress;
  • Replacing the dangerous by the non-dangerous or the less dangerous;
  • Developing a coherent overall prevention policy which covers technology, organisation of work, working conditions, social relationships and the influence of factors relating to the working environment;
  • Giving collective protective measures priority over individual protective measures;
  • Giving appropriate instructions to employees.

Special procedures for younger employees

An employer who employs a child below school-leaving age must inform the parent or guardian of the child of the risks and the safety requirements derived from the risk assessment.

The duty of employers to perform risk assessments is extended specifically to cover young workers. This must take account of their lack of experience, the absence of awareness of existing or potential risks, or the fact that they have not yet fully matured. Employers may not employ young people for some types of work unless it is necessary for training, there is competent supervision and the risk is reduced to the lowest level reasonably practicable. Risk assessments need to be carried out before young people begin work.

New and expectant mothers

Employers must carry out an assessment of the risks to new and expectant mothers and to their babies. When necessary on health and safety grounds, employers may change the working conditions or hours of work of new and expectant mothers. Employers may suspend on full pay new and expectant mothers from work if their safety cannot be protected in other ways. Employers may suspend on full pay new and expectant mothers who work at nights upon the production of a medical certificate. An employer need not take any action until an employee notifies them that she is pregnant, has given birth within the previous six months, or is breast feeding.

Employers need to identify suitable alternative work that is available and offer it to new and expectant mothers rather than suspend them if preventive and protective measures are insufficient. Notification of an employer of pregnancy for the purpose of any statutory requirement, such as statutory maternity pay, constitutes sufficient notice under the MHSW Regulations. The employer must introduce appropriate safety measure immediately on notification. The employer can request confirmation of the pregnancy by means of a medical certificate and can discontinue safety measures if this is not produced within a reasonable time.

Managerial training

Host employers must ensure that people working on their premises who are self-employed or who work for other employees receive relevant safety information. This can be done by providing them with information directly or providing it to their employers, in which case the host employer must check that the information is passed on.

Managers should be aware of relevant legislation and should be competent to manage health and safety policy effectively. All employees, including senior management, should receive relevant training.

Conclusion

As with much regulatory legislation, it is unlikely that you will fall foul of it unless there is some reason for some person to investigate. In the case of H&S requirements, that is most likely to happen if either an employee complains to a tribunal or there is an accident.

Please note that the information provided on this page:

  • Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
  • Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman;
  • Does not create a contractual relationship;
  • Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.

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