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  • Sharon Burbidge

Health & Safety at Work Act


Health and Safety at Work Act EMPLOYER Duties


The Health and Safety at Work etc Act describes the general duties of the Employer, the Employee and others. The relevant section of the Act (section 2) describing the employer's duties states that:


"Every employer shall, as far as reasonably practicable, ensure the health and safety and welfare of all employees whilst at work".


The section includes the following subsections which have an impact on manual handling activities.

  • Maintain safe plant and equipment and safe systems of work.

  • Ensure safe handling, storage and transportation of articles and substances.

  • Provide necessary information, instruction and training.

  • Ensure a safe place of work with safe entry and exit.

  • Provide a safe working environment with suitable and adequate welfare facilities.


Health and Safety at Work Act EMPLOYEE duties


The Health and Safety at Work etc Act identifies the duties of the employee (section 7); these duties have a recurring theme throughout all health and safety legislation, that is:

  • Employees must take reasonable care of themselves and others; and

  • Employees must not interfere either recklessly or intentionally with anything provided for health and safety.


Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations EMPLOYER duties


The Management Regulations provide more detailed requirements for the employer over and above the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. The main areas of the regulations which have an impact on manual handling operations are that the employer must:

  • Carry out a risk assessment;

  • Have a written risk assessment if there are five or more employees;

  • Review the risk assessment when there has been a significant change or when it is no longer valid;

  • Appoint competent persons to assist with legal compliance; and

  • Take into account the employees' capability when giving them a task to complete.


A competent person is someone with the knowledge, skills and experience to enable them to offer proper assistance to the employer.



Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations EMPLOYEE duties


Employees are always bound by the Health and Safety at Work Act to take reasonable care of themselves and others. The Management Regulations also require employees to use equipment and safety devices in accordance with training provided and also to report faults which present a serious or imminent danger to others.



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