For immediate purposes, Part 1. of the Act is of most importance to us and its aim, according to s.1(1), is to…..
a). secure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work;
b). protect persons other than persons at work against risks to health or safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work;
c). control the keeping and use of explosive or highly flammable or otherwise dangerous substances and generally prevent the unlawful acquisition, possession and use of such substances.
d). control the emission into the atmosphere of noxious or offensive substances from premises of any class covered by the Act. Note, s.1(1)d. was repealed by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 c.43.
2(1) then provides the following broad statement regarding an employer’s general duties;
“it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health safety and welfare at work of all his employees”.
Five sub-sections then break the general duty down by requiring employers to…..
2(2)(a) provide and maintain plant and systems of work that are safe and without risks to health.
(b) make arrangements to ensure safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances.
(c) provide such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure the health and safety at work of his employees.
(d) as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, maintain it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and provide and maintain means of access and egress to and from it that are safe and without such risks.
(e) provide and maintain a working environment for his employees that is safe without risks to health and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.
“Except in such cases as may be prescribed, it shall be the duty of every employer to prepare, and as often as may be appropriate revise, a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees and the organisation and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all of his employees”.
This translates as follows…
• A statement of general policy is needed.
• The Policy must be revised as appropriate.
• The Organisation to carry out the Policy must be identified.
• The Arrangements to effect the Policy must be identified.
• The Policy, and any revisions, must be brought to employees attention.
In keeping with s.1, it is not enough that employers concern themselves only for the safety of their own employees. Section 3(1) & (2), focused on non-employees, therefore says…
“It shall be the duty of every employer [and every self-employed person] to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety”.
Section 3(3) further requires employers and the self-employed to…
“…give to persons (not being his employees) who may be affected by the way in which he conducts his undertaking the prescribed information about such aspects of the way in which he conducts his undertaking as might affect their health or safety”.
Focused on ‘controllers of premises’, this section places duties on each person who has, to any extent, control of premises to take such measures as are reasonable for a person in his position to take to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that…
• The premises;
• All means of access and egress available for use;
• Any plant or substance in the premises; and
• Any plant or substance provided for use there;
• Are safe and without risks to health.
Note, tenancy agreements or contracts can dictate the person on whom this duty falls.
In cases involving a duty to do something ‘so far as is practicable’ or ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ or to use the ‘best practicable means’, the accused must prove that it was not practicable or (as the case may be) reasonably practicable to do more than was in fact done; or, as the case may be, that there was no better practicable means than was in fact used.
In such instances, the matter in question is proved unless the defendant satisfies the Court to the contrary (R v Lambert  UKHL 37.) (also see Reverse Burden).
Note: The same applies to a failure to follow a relevant Approved Code of Practice.
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