An Independently Connected Network of Businesses in Mid Devon

10 Things You May Not Know About Health & Safety and Employment Law

30/04/2014 - Category: Mid-Devon-Network-

1) There is no legal maximum limit on weight a person should lift at work, although it is recommended women do not exceed lifting 16kg, and men should not exceed 25kg.
There are also other precautionary measures to take when carrying out a manual-handling task within the workplace, (Click here for further info) 

2) 16ºC is considered as the 'minimum reasonable workplace temperature', or if much of the work is regarded as physical, this number can be reduced to 13ºC. A suitable workplace temperature is heavily dependent on the nature of the environment, i.e. an office, a factory / warehouse, a bakery.

There is no legal maximum temperature set for the workplace, but if employees see a workroom as uncomfortable, then the employer should complete the relevant steps to ensure a cooler temperature is achieved. Ways of doing this include;

• Providing air cooling devices
• Shading windows
• Providing the employee with a work station away from particularly humid areas

3) As part of the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, an employer is responsible for providing and paying for necessary eye tests and glasses for DSE users.
Employers of DSE users must also;

• Analyse workstations to assess and reduce risks
• Make sure controls are in place
• Provide information and training
• Provide eye and eyesight tests on request, and special spectacles if needed
• Review the assessment when the user or DSE changes

Click here for PDF containing more info 

4) The term "Mad as a Hatter", comes from an occupational disease resulting from exposure to Mercury. Commonly known as Mad Hatter Disease or Mad Hatter Syndrome, employees of the hat making industry who were exposed to prolonged Mercury vapors, developed the disease, with serious effects including nerve tremors and character changes.

5) It is not necessary for separate sex toilets to be provided in a workplace, although it is essential for an employer to provide enough toilet facilities to accommodate varying numbers of staff (see link for specific numbers)
There are also regulations in place to ensure a workplace is equipped with sanitary conveniences accessible to all employees.

6) A person has the right to make a claim for discrimination to an Employment Tribunal whether they are within current employment or not.

As can be seen here, The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against job applicants (and existing workers) because of a "protected characteristic". The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Examples of recent age discrimination cases within the work place can be found here.

7) New mothers have the right to continue breastfeeding upon their return to work. The Equality Act 2010 has made it illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, which in turn allows women to remain breastfeeding.

The conditions seen as necessary for breastfeeding mothers within the workplace are as follows (click here for full details);

• A clean, warm, comfortable and private room with a lockable door
• A comfortable chair
• A clean place to leave sterilising equipment and a pump if needed
• A clean fridge to store milk

A health and safety rep within the workplace can provide details on the specific company's breastfeeding policy and regulations.

8) Before 1998, workers were not entitled to any paid holiday. The Working Time Regulations 1998 has since then created the minimum annual leave regulations for workers.

Under the Working Time Regulations, workers (including part timers and most agency and freelance workers) are entitled to:

• 4 weeks paid leave each year (since 23.11.99)
• Payment for untaken statutory leave entitlement on termination of employment

9) The Statutory Right to Bank holidays was only introduced 2009 under the Statutory paid holiday entitlement is limited to 28 days. Staff working 6 days a week are only entitled to 28 days’ paid holiday and not 33.6 days, and bank holidays do not have to be given as paid leave.

More on this topic can be found here.

10) An employee is entitled to a 20 minute break per every 6 hours of work. The Working Time Regulations also state that a worker is entitled to 1 day off per week, and a rest period of 11 consecutive hours rest in each 24 hour period during which he works for his employer. There are conditions in which both of these regulations can be altered, i.e young workers are entitled to 2 days off per week. More information on this can be found by clicking on the hyperlink.

A special thank you to Richard Hookway of for providing this information at the Mid Devon Network meeting on 30th April 2014.

Richard will also be speaking alongside Trevor Vanstone from Amarisk, on the current principles of Health & Safety legislation. Along with an introduction to employment legislation.

This will be held at the Mid Devon Business Forum on Thursday 15th May 2014, at the Tiverton Hotel, 6.15 - 8.30pm.

Members and non-members welcome, if you would like to book your place to attend click here.

If you would like more details on Amarisk Ltd, please contact Richard Hookway - 07810 307296 - or visit the Amarisk website by clicking here.



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