Understanding UK health and safety legislation
Health and safety is an area in which Britain has become so ingenious that every aspect of our lives has a form of overlapping security legislation. Since the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, Britain has become a very safe place. In this article, we will consider some of the reasons for the strong emphasis on health and safety in the UK.
In the UK, the primary caregiver is an NHS, and as such the government – any taxpayer who pays for this care. When a person is injured in the workplace, it is the government that has to pay for the medical treatment and rehabilitation of that person. If this person is no longer able to work, or if they are unemployed for a long period of time, it may be good for the government that picks up a bill for their care – in terms of benefit deficit and housing subsidy.
While still rich, the cost of interest deficit and housing subsidy is very large, so logically and economically, to remove many risks (through health and safety regulations) from the workplace as soon as possible, so that these are large and long – less likely to cost.
For example, the first economic costs may be a bit ugly, while many people may say that the critical reason for having health and safety systems is simply moral. Most people agree that it is morally right to ensure that a workplace is a safe place, since the effects on the workers themselves, their families and friends are very exciting – especially if there is a major injury or even death.
Another big reason for the intense focus on health and safety in the UK is legal. The worker’s safety is related to the law, so if the company does not, for example, provide adequate protection to its employees, it may be open to legal proceedings. As we all know, if a company loses such a legal battle, it may lead to the end of the company – especially if the company is of modest size.
These are three basic reasons why Britain puts this effort into its own health and safety laws. In the end, it was designed to make living in this country a safer and more enjoyable place.
While all legislation is not equal, it is useful to understand the different levels of UK law and how businesses need to follow the requirements.
The Act of Parliament, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, defined a framework of objectives or principles to be followed. Failure to comply with an act is a criminal offense and is subject to judicial proceedings, for example. Financial penalties and/or imprisonment.
Regulations are secondary legislation and are done under the law of Parliament. Examples include the regulation of asbestos regulations for 2006 and the regulations on pressure systems for 2000. Violation of regulations is also a criminal offense and is subject to the same court proceedings.
The ACOP codes of practice complement the business and provide more detail and a real-life experience to provide more information to business owners. Non-compliance with ACOP is not a criminal office but can be used as evidence of non-compliance with the relevant law.
Guidance notes are issued by the Health and Safety Manager and provide their opinion on good practices. As with ACOP, they do not have legal status but it is useful to show how the employer did or did not meet legal standards.