The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999 has become a principal piece of UK legislation, and is a key part of the attempt to enforce the health and safety movement in the UK. MHSWR was created to supplement and reinforce the importance of health and safety which was first highlighted in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. As an organisation or a business in the UK, it is the employer's, employees' and contractors' responsibilities to comply with MHSWR to ensure that health and safety is maintained.
Following the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, there was an increase in the commitment to health and safety in the UK. This was a movement which had previously not received such strong commitment before legislation was introduced to really enforce it. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 was introduced to really reinforce and encourage more compliance and commitment to the health and safety movement in the UK.
What responsibilities does the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999 place on employers?
MHSWR focuses on the responsibilities of employers and employees. This ranges from clients to principal contractors and designers. MHSWR states that the following responsibilities are expected:
- A risk assessment must be undertaken.
- The creation of a well-communicated prevention policy which must be understood by both employers and employees. This policy will refer to technology, the organisation of the workplace, the relationships which exist within the workplace and the workplace environment.
- Appropriate and competent employees must be designated with the responsibility to look at health and safety measures and form a health and safety team within the business.
- Ensure that all employees and work associates are aware of the health and safety measures in the workplace. This can be ensured through training.
- Employees should be aware that it is their responsibility to report the organisation that they are working for if the health and safety standards are poor and that MHSWR is not being complied with.
What will happen if an employer does not comply with MHSWR?
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Health and Safety Inspectors or local authority involved in the area are responsible for dealing with the given organisations and businesses found guilty of a lack of compliance with MHSWR. The repercussions which can be administered by the HSE and the local authorities include:
- Imprisonment can occur if an individual within the management team has been found guilty of breaking MHSWR law through severe negligence.
- A fine which can reach up to £20,000.
- The organisation's reputation will be significantly tarnished in relation to the severity of what has occurred. For example, if an employee has been severely hurt, the lawsuit and case will be public knowledge and reported upon.
If an organisation wishes to protect all of its work associates, employees and customers, then it must uphold the health and safety standards set out in both MHSWR and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA) 1974. Training and knowledge of both of these acts is therefore of the utmost importance.