What rights do employees have to be kept safe in the workplace?
Posted on 12th February 2020
What rights do employees have to be kept safe in the workplace? If you work anywhere, from a small business, to a huge corporation, your employer has a legal, and indeed, common law duty, to keep you safe and out of harm, so far as is reasonably practicable. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the working world, to the ‘Six Pack’.
The 'six-pack' is the name given to six of the most widely quoted sets of health and safety regulations. They came into effect in Britain after six European directives, collectively known as the 'six-pack', were issued by the European Commission. After many years of labouring (pun intended) under the aegis of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, in 1992, the government introduced six pieces of legislation in order to comply, with their European mandate.
Whilst the Six Pack are thought by some to offer no more than a skeletal, somewhat bare bones list of laws availed to assist injured employees, they are the most quoted, most used (at least they are by our team of personal injury solicitors in Preston), and arguable easiest laws, covering work place injury and protection, that we hold in our armoury, both solicitors, and members of the general working public.
To our team of personal injury solicitors, the most useable of the Six Pack, is the Management of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations. Our solicitors use this against employers on a daily basis and it covers all aspects of on the job training- The employer must assess all significant risks to their employees or to other persons. If there are more than 5 employees a record of the assessment must be kept. The assessment must also identify preventive or protective measures designed to control the risk.
MG Legal’s injury lawyers have used breaches of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, to great effect. Experience has shown us that, particularly in the primary sector of work, this includes any industry such as farming, forestry, mining and fishing, often the Management of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations are not abided by. Bearing in mind these roles are often fraught with danger, one would argue, and indeed, we often do, that the Regulations are at the lesser end of what should be complied with, to avoid injury to the workforce, in any event.
Another one of our personal injury team’s favourite Regulations, is the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. Have you ever had a desk that is completely ill-fitting, and, ergonomically flawed to the point that you have a bad back? Or have you been asked to repair a faulty piece of equipment, whilst not holding the requisite training? Well, these two somewhat disparate situations are both clear examples of an employer failing to comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. It is often an easy Regulation to overlook by any business owner- our personal injury solicitors in Lancaster have found that many smaller business have a ‘make do’ attitude, and have been known to add a temporary fix to an issue, then never get around to replacing the fault wheel on the chair, or to stabilise machinery so as not to allow the same to fall and cause injury to the workforce.
Have you, as an employee, ever been asked to lift something heavy (the weight is actually subjective), and been injured in the workplace? Well, for the purposes of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations, an employer must avoid the need for workers to do any manual handling task which involves a risk of injury.
Our personal injury solicitors know that an employer cannot always avoid asking an employee to lift objects. This is the real world, and at the end of the day, the law is well- aware of an employer’s need to get the job done. So, when lifting cannot be avoided, the employer must assess the task taking into account the range of risk factors specified in the Regulations.The employer must reduce the risk involved to the lowest reasonably practicable level. The employer must provide workers with general indications of the risks and where possible specific information on the weight of each load and the heaviest side of a load with an off-centred centre of gravity. Employees must make full and proper use of systems of work provided by the employer.
Bearing in mind the final point, that employees, must make full and proper use of systems of work provided by the employer, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations is one area that our personal injury solicitors have found that employers will often try to claim an element of contributory negligence against the injured employee, especially if there is some evidence that the injured employee has had some Manual Handling Training,
The remaining Regulations of the Six Pack, the Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations, and the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations will be discussed in our personal injury team’s next blog- Employees’ Health and Safety Rights continued.
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