The Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAW) seeks to secure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work, for protecting others against risks to health or safety in connection with the activities of persons at work, for controlling the keeping and use and preventing the unlawful acquisition, possession and use of dangerous substances, and for controlling certain emissions to the atmosphere.

In the act general duties are placed upon the employer, self employed persons, persons other than those employed, manufacturers, employees. There is also a duty placed on all persons not to interfere with or misuse things provided pursuant to certain provisions. Failure to comply with such duties will most certainly lead to prosecution resulting in heavy fines or imprisonment or both. Some of the duties are outlined below:

Employers Duties:

1. To ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all his employees.

2. The provision of a "safe place to work".

3. Provision of information, instruction and training.

4. Prepare a written statement of general safety policy and the organisation and arrangements to implement the policy. Bring the attention of his employees to that policy.

5. To consult with his employees on matters of safety.

6. Has responsibility for persons other than employees who use these premises, this includes in the case of the University, students, contractors, visitors etc.

Duties of Manufacturers

1. To ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that articles are so designed and constructed as to be safe and without risk to health when properly used.

2. To arrange testing and examinations as may be necessary for the performance of the duty imposed upon him in 1.

3. To provide adequate information about the use for which the article has been designed and about any conditions necessary to ensure that, when put to use, it will be safe and without risks to health.

The same conditions imposed on manufacturers are applicable to suppliers who may not be the manufacturers. Contractors who install equipment plant or machinery must ensure that their installation meets the required safety standards.

Duties of Employees at Work

It shall be the duty of every employee while at work:-

1. to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work, and

2. as regards any duty or requirement imposed on his employer or any other person by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions to co-operate with him so far as is necessary to enable that duty or requirement to be performed or complied with.

Duty not to interfere with or misuse things provided pursuant to certain provisions

No person shall intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare in pursuance of any of the relevant statutory provisions.

Duty not to charge employees for things done or provided pursuant to certain specific requirements

No employer shall levy or permit to be levied on any employee of his any charge in respect of anything done or provided in pursuance of any specific requirement of the relevant statutory provisions.

The HASAW goes on to explain the powers of the Health and Safety Inspectorate, their right of entry and inspection, prosecutions, appeals etc.

The main object of this notice is to inform all employees and persons using the School of Crystallography's premises (including students) that the Act is applicable in its entirety to Birkbeck College and that it will be necessary for everybody to observe this legislation if prosecutions are to be avoided. It must also be realised that when talking about prosecutions that the Act provides for the prosecution of individuals as well as the College as a body. This means that if an individual shows a blatant disregard of the regulations or is proved to be guilty of neglect, that individual may be prosecuted.

Whilst it has been necessary to state the requirements of the Act and to mention the possibility of fines and punishments for non-compliance with the Act its main objective of attaining a safe and healthy place to work must not be overlooked. The imposition of legislation should be regarded as a means of enforcement where there is a blatant disregard of health and safety matters. All employees, users of the premises and participants in College activities will need to acquire "safety awareness" if safe and healthy places to work are to be achieved.

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