Health And Safety Legislations
Legislation, also called statute law, is a law of the land and it comprises of Acts of the Parliament, Orders and regulations. If an individual or business disobeys the law that is considered to be criminal offense and are that is punishable by a court of law. Health and Safety legislation existed in the UK since the 1800s when people started to work in the factories and were exposed to very high risks as machines were often un-guarded and the pursuit of profit was very important than human life.
Fortunately Health and Safety in the workplace has substantially improved and has built up into a vast body of case law from where to draw legal guidance on the practical meaning of these duties. From the early 1970s, UK law is influenced by European Union although many individuals believe that this has adversely affected the legislative framework, it remains the law and one that everybody should work within. Successive governments have tried to tinker with the system as it is seen as a vote winner to say they will reduce the number of onerous Health and Safety laws, although it is more difficult in practice. The overall message that a business owner should not injure their staff seems to have been lost!
It is useful to understand the various levels of the UK law and how a business needs to follow the requirements.
The Acts of Parliament, for instance, Health and Safety in Work Act 1974, spells out framework of objectives or principles that should be adhered to. Failure to comply with such act is a criminal offense and subject to court actions for example imprisonment and/or financial penalties .
Regulations are secondary legislation that are created under Parliament Act. For instance the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Pressure Systems Regulations 2000. Breaches of regulations is likewise a criminal offense and subject to punishment in a court.
Approved Codes of Practice (ACOP’s) gives more detail and real life experience to provide more information for business owners. Failure to comply with ACOP’s isn’t an offense but can be used as proof that the relevant act was not complied with.
Many trade organizations also publish specific industry advice and again hold no legal status but contain more practical advice on steps a business owner can follow and are more user-friendly. The British Standards Institute (BSI) produce a wide range of technical standards that products or services need to be following so as to be seen as good practice and help comply with UK legislation.