Health and Safety Level 2 information

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Under the Health and Safety at Work  Act 1974 (the HASAWA), employers have to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by what they do or do not do. It applies to all work activities and premises and everyone at work has responsibilities under it, including​

the self-employed.​

There are a number of specific regulations within the HASAWA that you need to be aware of in the workplace.​

These include:​

  • Fire •    First Aid
  • Manual handling •    Signs
  • Electricity •    Chemicals
  • Vibration •    Noise
  • Asbestos •    Display screen equipment
  • Working at heights

This is by no means the definitive list and you need to be aware of specific legislation relating to your business.

Employers must have a Health and Safety policy, and if they have five or more employees, that policy must be written down.​

Most businesses set out their policy in three sections:​

  • The statement of general policy on Health and Safety at 

     work sets out their commitment to managing Health and

     Safety effectively, and what they want to achieve

  • The responsibility section sets out who is responsible for

    specific actions 

  • The arrangements section contains the detail of what they  

    are going to do in practice to achieve the aims set out in

    their statement of Health and Safety policy

Enforcement ensures that duty-holders:​

  • Deal immediately with serious risks

  • Comply with the law

  • Are held to account if they fail in their responsibilities

A duty-holder is the generic term for a person or organisation with responsibilities under Health and Safety law. ​

Duty-holders include employers, self-employed people, contractors and employees.​

On finding a breach of Health and Safety law, the inspector will decide what action to take.​

The action will depend on the nature of the breach, and will be based on the principles set out in HSE’s Enforcement Policy Statement.​

  • Informal

  • Improvement notice

  • Prohibition notice

  • Prosecution

  • The Civil law
  • The employer can face claims for compensation in the civil Courts. Compensation is awarded against the employer where employees or other claimants prove that the employer has a legal liability to pay damages for personal injury due to their:​

    • Negligence

    • Breach of statutory duty

    • Strict liability

    • Breach of contract

Managing Health and Safety is an integral part of managing the business. ​

Employers will need to undertake a risk assessment to find out about the risks in their workplace, put sensible measures in place to control them and make sure they stay controlled.​

They will need to consider the risks in their workplace when managing Health and Safety and assessing.​

They can follow a ‘Plan, Do, Check and Act’ approach:


Describe how you manage health and safety in your business (your legally required policy) and plan to make it happen in practice.​


Prioritise and control your risks – consult your employees and provide training and information.​


Measure how you are doing.​


Learn from your experience.

  • Follow the training they have received when using any work items their employer has given to them​
  • Take reasonable care of their own and other people’s Health and Safety​
  • Co-operate with their employer on Health and Safety​
  • Tell someone (their employer, supervisor, or Health and Safety representative) if they think the work or inadequate precautions are putting anyone’s Health and Safety at serious risk

People are involved in all aspects of work. That is why the HSE recognises the important role ergonomics and human factors can play in helping to avoid accidents and ill health at work.​

What do employers have to do?

If they operate a shift work system or their employees are required to work irregular hours, they should assess any risks that arise from the working pattern and take action to tackle any problems they identify.

Human factors are concerned with three interrelated areas:​

  • What people are being asked to do ​

(the job and its characteristics) ​

  • Who is doing it (the individual and their competence) ​

  • Where they are working (the organisation and its attributes)

Health surveillance is not needed for most workers, but in some work situations and for some exposures/activities it is required by law.​

This means having a system to look for early signs of ill health caused by substances and other hazards at work.​

If they need to have health surveillance arrangements in place, they should be appropriate for the health risks their workers are exposed to. ​

They must decide whether the work they do needs health surveillance.

They should ask themselves whether any of their workers are at risk from, for example:​

  • Noise or vibration​

  • Solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other​

substances hazardous to health​

  • Asbestos, lead or work in compressed air​

  • Ionising radiations or commercial diving – these require​

a particular type of high-level medical surveillance,​

which must be carried out by a doctor appointed for ​

these purposes by the HSE

Where stress may be a problem, employers should include it in their risk assessment and take action to tackle it.

An effective risk assessment approach to tackling stress could include the following:​

  • Measure the current situation ​

(using surveys and/or other techniques)​

  • Work in partnership with employees and their ​

representatives to make practical improvements​

  • Agree and share an action plan with employees and their​


  • Regularly review the situation to ensure it continues to​


ere are some things they should consider:

  • Workers also have a duty to take reasonable care of themselves​

and others who could be affected by their actions while they are at​


  • They may wish to involve organisations that can offer help and​

support, or give their workers their contact details​

  • If they decide that strict standards are needed because of ​

safety-critical jobs, then they should agree procedures with​

workers in advance​

  • If they decide that workplace drug testing is appropriate, they may​

need to consider the type of testing, how the sample is collected​

and how to prevent its contamination​

  • Disciplinary procedures may be needed where safety is critical

173 workers were killed at work​

  • An estimated 591,000 workers had an accident at ​

work in 2011/12​

  • 212,000 of these injuries led to over 3 days absence​

from work and 156,000 to over 7 days. ​

  • Employers reported 114,000 injuries to workers in ​

2011/12, 24,000 of which were classified as major​

injuries (RIDDOR)

Working days lost

  • 27 million days were lost overall (17 days per case)​
  • 22.7 million due to work-related ill health and 4.3​

million due to workplace injury

The provisional figure for the number of workers fatally injured in 2012/13 is 148, and corresponds to a rate of fatal injury of 0.5 deaths per 100,000 workers. ​

The figure of 148 worker deaths in 2012/13 is 18% lower than the average for the past five years (181). The latest rate of fatal injury of 0.5 compares to the five-year average rate of 0.6. ​

The finalised figure for 2011/12 is 173 worker fatalities, and corresponds to a rate of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 workers. ​

Fatal injuries are subject to chance variation, fluctuating year-on-year, therefore it is necessary to look at trends over a number of years. When the 2012/13 data is added to the time series, the latest five years indicates a levelling-off, with no overall trend. ​

There were 113 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2012/13 (excluding railways-related incidents).

Providing Health and Safety information and training helps employers to:

  • Ensure that people who work for them know how to work​

safely and without risks to health​

  • Develop a positive Health and Safety culture, where safe​

and healthy working becomes second nature to everyone​

  • Meet their legal duty to protect the Health and Safety of​

their employees

Consulting with employees can have real benefits for the business, including:

  • Increased productivity – businesses with good​

workforce involvement in Health and Safety tend to​

have a better productivity rate​

  • Improvements in overall efficiency and quality​

  • Higher levels of workforce motivation

A healthier and safer workplace – employees can help employers to ​

identify hazards, assess risks and develop ways to control or remove​


  • Better decisions about Health and Safety – they are based on the​

input and experience of a range of people, including employees who​

have extensive knowledge about their own job and the business​

  • A stronger commitment to implementing decisions or actions – as ​

employees have been actively involved in reaching these decisions​

  • Greater co-operation and trust – employers and employees who talk​

to each other and listen to each other, gain a better understanding of​

each other’s views​

  • Joint problem-solving

Employers must get help from a competent person to enable them to meet the requirements of Health and Safety law.​

A competent person is someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to assist them properly. ​

The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular help they need.

A hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, an open drawer etc.​

The risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.

Temperature •   Fire​

  • Ventilation •   Humidity​
  • Lighting •   Working at heights​
  • Noise •   Vibration​
  • Access and egress •   Traffic systems​
  • Electricity •   Layout and space​
  • Confined spaces •   Equipment and machinery​
  • Housekeeping •  Waste disposal​

This is by no means a definitive list

A risk assessment is an important step in protecting workers and the business, as well as complying with the law. It helps employers focus on the risks that really matter in their workplace – the ones with the potential to cause real harm.

A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people, so that employers can weigh up whether they have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm

First you need to work out how people could be harmed. ​

When you work in a place every day it is easy to overlook some hazards!

make a difference when looking after people and the business. ​

Writing down the results of your risk assessment, and sharing them with the staff, encourages you to do this. ​

If you have fewer than five employees working in the business, you do not have to write anything down, though it is useful so that you can review it at a later date if, for​

example, something changes.

Few workplaces stay the same. Sooner or later, you will bring in new equipment, substances and procedures that could lead to new hazards. ​

It makes sense, therefore, to review what you are doing​

on an on-going basis. ​

Every year or so, formally review where you are, to make sure you are still improving, or at least not sliding back.

Risks should be reduced to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures, in order of priority.​

The ‘Hierarchy of control’ should be followed when planning to reduce risks.

  1.    Elimination

Redesign the job or substitute a substance so that the hazard is removed or eliminated.​

  1. Substitution

Replace the material or process with a less hazardous one.​

  1. Engineering controls

As an example, use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls where you cannot avoid working at height.

  1. Administrative controls

These are all about identifying and implementing​

the procedures you need to work safely.​

  1.    Personal protective clothes and equipment

Only after all the previous measures have been tried and found ineffective in controlling risks to​

a reasonably practicable level, must personal protective equipment (PPE) be used.

An accident may be defined as:

‘An unplanned, uncontrolled event which has led to, or could have led to injury to people, damage to plant, machinery or the environment and/or some other loss.’​

The HSE provides the following definition:

‘An accident is an undesired circumstance(s) which gives rise to ill-health, injury, damage, production losses or increased liabilities.

Slips, trips and falls​

  • Manual handling​

  • Workplace traffic accidents​

  • Electrical accidents​

  • Hazardous chemicals​

  • Fire​

  • Plant and heavy machinery

Sprains and strains​

  • Back injury​

  • Head injury​

  • Neck injury​

  • Repetitive strain injury


Workplaces need to be adequately ventilated. ​

Fresh, clean air should be drawn from a source outside​

the workplace, uncontaminated by discharge from flues, chimneys or other process outlets, and be circulated through the workrooms.​

Temperatures in indoor work places

Environmental factors (such as humidity and sources of heat in the workplace) combined with personal factors (such as the clothing a worker is wearing and how physically demanding their work is) to influence what is called someone’s ‘thermal comfort’.

Economic costs to Britain

Workplace injuries and ill health (excluding cancer) cost society an estimated £13.4 billion in 2010/11.​

Total cost of workplace fatalities, injuries and ill health in Great Britain, 2006/07 – 2010/11 (2010 costs).


Workplaces need to be adequately ventilated. ​

Fresh, clean air should be drawn from a source outside​

the workplace, uncontaminated by discharge from flues, chimneys or other process outlets, and be circulated through the workrooms.​

Temperatures in indoor work places

Environmental factors (such as humidity and sources of heat in the workplace) combined with personal factors (such as the clothing a worker is wearing and how physically demanding their work is) to influence what is called someone’s ‘thermal comfort’.

Work in hot or cold environments

The risk to the health of workers increases as conditions move further away from those generally accepted as comfortable. Risk of heat stress arises, for example, from working in high air temperatures, exposure to high thermal radiation or high levels of humidity, such as those found in​

foundries, glass works and laundries.​

Cold stress may arise, for example, from working in cold stores, food preparation areas and in the open air during winter.


Lighting should be sufficient to enable people to work and move about safely. If necessary, local lighting should be provided at individual workstations and at places of particular risk such as crossing points on traffic routes. Lighting and light fittings should not create any hazard.​

Cleanliness and waste materials

Every workplace and the furniture, furnishings and fittings should be kept clean and it should be possible to keep the surfaces of floors, walls and ceilings clean. Cleaning and the removal of waste should be carried out as necessary by an effective method. Waste should be stored in​

suitable receptacles.

Workstations and seating

Workstations should be suitable for the people using them and for the work they do. People should be able to leave workstations swiftly in an emergency. ​

If work can or must be done sitting, seats which are suitable for the people using them and for the work they do should be provided. ​

Seating should give adequate support for the lower back, and footrests should be provided for workers who​

cannot place their feet flat on the floor.


The workplace, and certain equipment, devices and systems should be maintained in efficient working order (efficient for health, safety and welfare). Such maintenance is required for mechanical ventilation systems; equipment and devices which would cause a risk to health, safety or welfare if a fault occurred; and equipment and devices intended to prevent or reduce hazard.​

The condition of the buildings needs to be monitored to ensure that they have appropriate stability and solidity for their use.

Floors and traffic routes

‘Traffic route’ means a route for pedestrian traffic, vehicles, or both, and includes any stairs, fixed ladder, doorway, gateway, loading bay or ramp. There should be sufficient traffic routes, of sufficient width and headroom, to allow people and vehicles to circulate safely with ease.​

Falls into dangerous substances

The consequences of falling into dangerous substances are so serious that a high standard of protection is required.

Transparent or translucent doors , gates or walls and windows

Windows, transparent or translucent surfaces in walls, partitions, doors and gates should, where necessary for reasons of health and safety, be made of safety material or be protected against breakage.​


Windows that open, skylights and ventilators should be capable of being opened, closed or adjusted safely and, when open, should not pose any undue risk to anyone.

Sanitary conveniences and washing facilities​

  • Drinking water​

  • Accommodation for clothing and facilities for ​


  • Facilities for rest and to eat meals

Employers have duties concerning the provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at work.​

PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work.​

It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

Even where engineering controls and safe systems of work have been applied, some hazards might remain.

These include injuries to:

  • The lungs, e.g. from breathing in contaminated air​

  • The head and feet, e.g. from falling materials​

  • The eyes, e.g. from flying particles or splashes of   ​

corrosive liquids​

  • The skin, e.g. from contact with corrosive materials​

  • The body, e.g. from extremes of heat or cold​

PPE is needed in these cases to reduce the risk

Electricity can kill or severely injure people and cause damage to property. However, you can take simple precautions when working with or near electricity and electrical equipment to significantly reduce the risk of injury to you, your workers and others around you.

So far as is reasonably practicable you must make sure that electrical equipment and installations are maintained to prevent danger.​

Users of electrical equipment, including portable appliances, should carry out visual checks.​

Remove the equipment from use immediately and check it, repair it or replace it if:

  • The plug or connector is damaged​

  • The cable has been repaired with tape, is not secure, or internal wires​

are visible etc​

  • Burn marks or stains are present (suggesting overheating)​

Repairs should only be carried out by a competent person (someone who has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to carry out the work safely).

  • Be aware of the dangers of working near or underneath​

overhead power lines. Electricity can flash over from ​

them, even though machinery or equipment may not​

touch them​

  • Don’t work under them when equipment (e.g. ladders, a​

crane jib, a tipper-lorry body or a scaffold pole) could​

come within a minimum of six metres of a power line​

without getting advice.​

Speak to the line owner, e.g. the electricity company,​

railway company or tram operator, before any work

Always assume cables will be present when digging​

in the street, pavement and/or near buildings​

  • Consult local electricity companies and service plans​

to identify where cables are located

Fire is a chemical reaction resulting in the release of heat and light.​

Most fires are preventable, and those responsible for​

workplaces and other buildings to which the public have access can avoid them by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behavior and procedures.

For the creation of fire, the following three elements are essential:​

  • Fuel – a combustible substance, either solid, liquid or gas​

  • Heat – this can be provided by various means such as​

directly from sparks and flames, by friction or chemical​


  • Oxygen – normally available in the atmosphere although it​

can be provided by other sources

Without all three of these elements, fire cannot exist. Therefore, if one of these elements is removed the fire cannot continue to burn.​

The three methods are as follows:​

  1. Starving

The safe removal of the fuel by whatever means is available so that there is nothing left to burn.​

  1. Cooling

This reduces the temperature of the burning material below its ignition point.​

  1. Smothering

Excludes the oxygen by the application of foam, dry powder, CO2 or a fire blanket.​

These three methods make the TRIANGLE OF EXTINCTION

Employers (and/or building owners or occupiers) must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. ​

This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise.​

Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.

A fire in your workplace must be detected quickly and a warning given so that people can escape safely. ​

Early discovery and warning will increase the time available for escape and enable people to evacuate safely before the fire takes hold and blocks escape routes or makes escape difficult.

Manual handling causes over a third of all workplace injuries. These include work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) such as pain and injuries to arms, legs and joints, and repetitive strain injuries of various sorts.​

The term manual handling covers a wide variety of activities including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying. If any of these tasks are not carried out appropriately there is a risk of injury.

Always take into account:

  • Individual capability​

  • The nature of the load​

  • Environmental conditions​

  • Training​

  • Work organisation
  • Reduce the amount of twisting, stooping and reaching​

  • Avoid lifting from floor level or above shoulder height,​

especially heavy loads​

  • Adjust storage areas to minimise the need to carry out​

such movements​

  • Consider how you can minimise carrying distances​

  • Assess the weight to be carried and whether the worker​

can move the load safely or needs any help – maybe the​

load can be broken down to smaller, lighter components

Consider whether you can use a lifting aid, such​

as a forklift truck, electric or hand-powered hoist,​

or a conveyor​

  • Think about storage as part of the delivery ​

process – maybe heavy items could be delivered​

directly, or closer, to the storage area​

  • Reduce carrying distances where possible

Some substances can cause asthma or other diseases, including cancer. ​

Many can damage the skin, and some can cause serious long-term damage to the lungs.​

The effect can be immediate, such as dizziness or stinging eyes, or can take many years to develop, such as lung disease. ​

Many of the long-term or chronic effects cannot be cured once they develop.

The law requires you to adequately control exposure to materials in the workplace that cause ill health.​

This is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH).​

Note: average sampling variability +/- 8% on the total.

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