Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain. It places wide-ranging duties on employers who must protect the ‘health, safety and welfare’ at work of all their employees, as well as others on their premises. This includes temps, casual workers, the self-employed, clients, visitors and the general public.
It is the Health and Safety Executive, along with local authorities (and other enforcing authorities) who are responsible for enforcing the Act as well as a number of other Acts and Statutory Instruments relevant to the working environment.
Under the Act there are also a number of regulations governing the safety of plant and equipment.
The first of those is the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) that states that all employers have an obligation to provide employees with a safe-work environment.
The implication of that requirement is that all work equipment requires a risk assessment and a decision to be taken as to whether regular examination is prudent and necessary.
A sub-section of this regulation is the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) that requires all equipment that lifts or lowers a load (including people) needs to be examined.
Although more specific than the PUWER definition, the LOLER requirement is still a plant non-specific definition, ensuring that the inventory of plant requiring examination continuously requires revision and revisiting.
The third set of guidelines is the Pressure System Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR) which govern the safe operation of pressure systems.
They call for regular examination in accordance with the written scheme and in order to ensure compliance there are three rules of thumb that should be adhered to:
- Any vessel that holds steam under pressure;
- Any vessel whose pressure multiplied by its volume is greater than 250 Bar Litres;
- Any Air Conditioning Unit with more than 25Kw of total installed power.