Legislation and Policy

  • Health & safety legislation can be a challenge for any business. 

    How Mentor could help

    The Mentor Health & Safety Service phone line is staffed 24/7 by expert consultants, which means that you have access to health & safety legislation and policy information whenever you need it.

    Here is a brief summary of health & safety legislation requirements which may apply to your workplace.

    Ladders

    It’s a myth that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has banned the use of ladders in the workplace.

    The Working at Height Regulations’ principal aim is to ensure activities are suitably risk-assessed and your health & safety policy includes sensible risk management techniques for keeping people safe when working at height.

    For instance, ladders should be used only when working at height if:

    • Safer alternatives have been ruled out
    • The task is low risk and of short duration
    • Site features mean other equipment is not appropriate. 

    Space

    Employees should have enough space to carry out their normal work, according to Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, with at least 11 cubic metres per person.

    These health & safety regulations state that available space is calculated by taking total volume of an empty room and dividing it by the number of people working in it. The height of the room should not be taken any higher than 3 metres.

    An exception is structures that are necessarily small, such as sales kiosks and rooms used for meetings. There must be room for safe access and exit.

    Temperature

    There are no legally-defined maximum or minimum temperatures for the workplace in health & safety legislation.

    The Approved Code of Practice for Workplace Health Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 suggest workrooms should be reasonably comfortable, without the need for special clothing.

    The temperature in workrooms should be at least 16°C, unless much of the work involves pronounced physical effort, when it should be at least 13°C. However, keep in mind that air movement and relative humidity may influence how temperature is experienced.

    If a comfortable temperature cannot be achieved, workers should be given suitable protective clothing and rest facilities. 

    Eye tests

    Employers are obliged to make eyesight tests available on request to employees who habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of their daily routine.

    If an ophthalmic optician advises that an employee needs help to see a VDU, the cost of equipment such as glasses must be met by the company, within reason.

    HSE visits

    The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authority Environmental Health Office inspectors have the right to enter your workplace without notice to check your business is compliant with health & safety legislation.

    If the inspector finds a breach of health & safety legislation, they may:

    • Offer guidance or advice 
    • Talk to employees and their representatives
    • Take photographs and samples
    • Take enforcement action if there’s an immediate risk to health & safety.

    Enforcement action may be informal or be in the form of an improvement notice, a prohibition notice or prosecution.

    An inspector will expect to see that employers have a suitable health & safety policy in place and have shared this policy with employees.

    Protective Clothing

    Any employee who may be exposed to health & safety risks at work must be given suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

    Equipment should be readily and clearly available and employees should be trained in its use.

    Section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that the worker should not be charged for PPE that they are required to wear and which is used only at work.

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