The health and safety at the workplace in the United Kingdom, is administered by the Health and Safety Executive from now on referred to as HSE. The HSE is a public body that works for the regulation, encouragement, and enforcement of health and safety at workplaces. The HSE is not a departmental body also responsible for researching the risks arising out of occupation in the United Kingdom, Wales, and Scotland. The Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974, created the HSE. The headquarters of HSE is situated at Liverpool, United Kingdom. It is crucial to provide health and safety provisions by any organization (Armstrong and Taylor 2014). It is because the proper health and safety provisions in any organization help to ensure that the employees are not injured helps to create safety and health culture, helps to analyze the better management of health and safety and helps to meet the legal requirement of organizations to meet health and safety provisions.
Occupational health means and includes all the spheres of health and safety at the workplace and strongly focuses on the basic hazard prevention. The history of health and safety provisions is a recent phenomenon. The need for health and safety provisions at the workplace was felt with the cropping up of the labor movements. In the nineteenth century in England, with the enactment of the Factory Acts, the need for health provisions for the poor children involved in the cotton mills was greatly felt. The publication was made by the royal commission in 1840 regarding the working conditions of the workers engaged in the mining industry at that time (Bahr 2014).
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act of 1974, was passed by the British Parliament, and it provides the basic structure and body which is involved with the regulation, encouragement, and enforcement of the safety, health and welfare provisions at workplace situated in the United Kingdom (Bratton and Gold 2012).
The Act states the duties of the employees, employers, suppliers and contract in work premises and the persons who manage the work premises. The Act covers a wide area of regulation that involves ministers from the government. The Act has been a statutory mechanism since 1974. The Act states the general principles relating to managing health and safety at workplaces. The Act also specifically provides the Code of practice in the form of regulations for regulating the health and safety at workplaces. Some of the regulations are Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations relating to Control of Hazardous Substances (2002), the Health and Safety at Work Management Regulations (1999), etc. The Act also intended to make rational the confusing systems of legislations which are existing (Channing 2013).
The Act has set out several objectives and goals. They are as follows:
The Act starts by stating the duties of the employers. Section 2 of the Act states the general duties which the employers need to follow (Hoel 2013). The general duties of the employer are as follows:
According to Section 3 of the Act, it is the duty of the employers and the self-employed persons to make provisions regarding the safety of the persons who are not employees. It includes the safety of the clients, visitors, etc. It has to be noted that the Act does not extend to the domestic servants (Hughes and Ferrett 2015).
Section 4 of the Act provides the duties of the occupiers for maintaining a risk-free and safe environment to work. The term occupiers include the commercial landlords, maintenance contractors, etc.
Section 6 (1) of the Act declares the duties of any person who is involved in designing, supplying, manufacturing and importing any article which is used at work. The duties of the persons are ensuring that the articles constructed by him are safe and possess no risk to the health of the persons involved, performing the essential tests of the articles for the purpose of ensuring the safety, to take essential steps to secure that the health and safety provisions are attained at the workplace.
Section 7 provides the duties of the employees at the time of work. The duties of the employees are to take reasonable care of the health and safety of themselves as well as the persons working with them or other employees. The other duty of the employees is to cooperate with the employer, who is performing his duties.
Section 8 of the Act states the duties of the persons in general. The sections make it clear that no person shall interfere or indulge himself with anything that is involved with the misuse of interests of health, safety and welfare of people in the workplace.
In every section, there is a word reasonably practicable mentioned. The word has been incorporated in the sections to make it clear that the duties of the employer and employee are not absolute. The employer and the employee have to meet the requirement of their duties only in those cases where it physically possible to meet. It also means that the employer and the employee must make reasonable efforts to perform their duties but if it is possible physically.
The Health and Safety Executive performs the following functions:
The Secretary of the State is assigned with wide powers to formulate health and safety regulations. The breach of any duty set forth by the Secretary of the State can result in any criminal prosecution under section 33 of the Act.
The employees may find the regulations of the Act confusing to file individual suits. By section 18 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974, the HSE has the authority to delegate its actions to the Government with the view of getting a targeted approach. It has been clearly mentioned that any enforcing authority can appoint or indulge inspectors for enforcing the health and safety provisions. The Local Government bodies that can act as enforcing authorities are districted councils, county council where district council is not present, councils of London Borough, London common council, etc.
The powers of the inspectors are as follows:
It can be observed that if there is any offence committed in terms of health and safety, that is directly attributable to negligence of any manager or director or secretary or any other officer of the similar rank of the organization, then that person or organization can be put to prosecution under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, 1974 (Cane and Atiyah 2013).
The latest case laws have affirmed that the directors can never avoid any charge of negligence under section 37 by making arrangements for the business of their organization so that they are ignorant of facts that would incur their responsibility to address the breaches of health and safety (Okoye and Okolie 2014).
The persons held responsibly is liable to fines and sentenced to imprisonment. In addition to that, section 2(1) of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 gives powers to the court to disqualify any individual who is accused of offense in relation to the management of any company. The section includes offenses relating to health and safety. The referred power is at the discretion of the courts, and it is not required to conduct an extra investigation (Moran 2013).
The directors who are individual can be held liable for any other related faults, such as the offenses stated in common law such as manslaughter and gross negligence (Forster 2014). In common law, if gross negligence is proved only when the individual officers cause death by their gross negligent behavior (Feng 2013). The referred offense is punishable by a fine of any amount and imprisonment that can extend to any number of years (Owen and Lewis 2014).
The recommendations that are reached by the researcher is that the health and safety provisions of any organization must be able to assess the risks and dangers of the customers, employees, partners and other peoples (McCaffrey 2013). After the assessment of the risk, the organization must make proper arrangements for the organizing and control of the measures that protects the health of the persons. Any organization must have their health and safety measures written in a prescribed form. Lastly, the organization must have access health and safety measures which are competent.
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