Health and Safety Law...

Learning materials to develop Health and Safety skills need to reflect H&S law. However they should not just 'throw the law' at you, they need to go beyond and introduce good working practices to make continual improvements.

Health and Safety law tries to prevent the most obvious causes of harm to people at work. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers to protect their employees and others, 'as far as is reasonably practicable'. Employers must carry out certain general duites such as providing adequate training and consulting with employee or trade union representatives. Employees are required to take 'reasonable care' for themselves and others.

When the first Factory Inspectors were introduced in 1832, each policed 400-500 factories. Each Health and Safety Inspector now has about the same number of organisations to cover. While the threat of a prosecution and possible publicity may deter some offenders, the reality of the fines imposed does little to impose improvements.

H&S Skills required by law
Health and Safety Skills can enable employers and employees to become competent in a range of skills needed to continually improve health and safety culture in the workplace.

Regulations arising from the Act, in particular the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 state that an employer
"shall appoint competent persons to assis him (sic) in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on him by or under the relevant statutory provisionst". (7,1)

But how has anybody been able to demonstrate they are "competent"? This is one the the most commonly asked questions by small businesses to business support organisations - particularly in relation to carrying out risk assessments. The answer in law is vague:
" a person shall be regarded as competent where he has sufficient training and experience or knowledge or other qualities to enable him to properly assist in undertaking the measures." (7,5)

Unitl recently, it was impossible to demonstrate that you were "competent" in these sorts of skills to nationally recognised standards. Now it is possible (e.g risk assessment)..

more on H&S systems..