Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) came into force on 29 December 1999 to reinforce the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The MHSWR 1999 superceded similar acts of 1992 and 1994, as well as the Health and Safety (Young Persons) Regulations 1997 and Part 3 of The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997

What is the purpose of the MHSWR?

The MHSWR place a duty on employers to assess and manage risks to their employees and others in the workplace.

An initial “suitable and sufficient” assessment must be undertaken to determine any risks to employees’ health and safety and that of others who may be affected by the work activity. Where there are more than 5 employees in the business any significant finding must be recorded. If any group of employees is especially at risk they should be identified as such.

Carrying out the risk assessment

A hierarchy of risk control is outlined by the General Principles of Prevention, which should be applied while undertaking the assessment. The elements of risk control, in order of importance, are as follows:

  1. Avoiding risks
  2. Evaluating the risks which cannot be avoided
  3. Combating the risks at source
  4. Adapting the work to the individual, especially as regards the design of workplaces, the choice of work equipment and the choice of working and production methods, with a view, in particular, to alleviating monotonous work and work at a predetermined work-rate and to reducing their effect on health
  5. Adapting to technical progress
  6. Replacing the dangerous by the non-dangerous or the less dangerous
  7. Developing a coherent overall prevention policy which covers technology, organisation of work, working conditions, social relationships and the influence of factors relating to the working environment
  8. Giving collective protective measures priority over individual protective measures
  9. Giving appropriate instructions to employees

What happens after the risk assessment is completed?

The risk assessment should reveal any health and safety issues that need to be addressed:

  • Employers should make arrangements to ensure that the identified health and safety measures are implemented. This includes creating a policy and the planning, monitoring, auditing and reviewing of the preventative and protective measures. All records must be kept.
  • Where significant risks have been identified employers should provide appropriate health surveillance, for example, where workers are exposed to hazardous substances as part of their work they should undergo regular screening to monitor their health.
  • An employer must appoint competent people to help apply any necessary preventive and protective measures. These people may be from an external organisation or employed by the company 
  • Procedures must be put in place do deal with emergency situations or other serious and imminent danger. 
  • Information and training must be given to employees in order that they understand any risks and how the risks may be minimised. 
  • If the business shares its premises with other organisations or individuals it should co-operate and coordinate activities with those companies.
  • Temporary and casual workers need to comply with health and safety policies and should be provided with information to help them do so
  • Any new work arrangements, procedures or equipment that may affect health and safety should be discussed with employees
  • Due to their condition new and expectant mothers may be temporarily vulnerable to certain issues in the workplace and risk assessments should be taken where appropriate to ensure their health and safety 
  • Employers need to consider that young people with a lack of experience, or absence of awareness of existing or potential risks, may be more susceptible to accidents and may need extra measures to ensure the health and safety of young people is not compromised.

Do employees have any responsibility for health and safety?

All employees should also share responsibility for their own health and safety, and be aware of the impact their actions or omissions may have on others in the workplace.

The regulations also stipulate that employees have a duty to report any inadequacies in health and safety provision. 

Employees should report and record any situations that may be dangerous and only use equipment in accordance with its suitability and in the way it should be used.

Can a claim for personal injury be brought against an employer for breaching the MHSWR?

If a worker is injured through an accident at work he may be able to bring a claim if the employer is found to have breached the regulations. Evidence of a breach of the regulations may not automatically mean an employer is negligent for the purposes of a claim, but is strong evidence that a claim is likely to succeed.

It is also possible for an employer to bring an actions against an employee if the employee has breached his duties under the regulations.