Exposure to Substances: Particular General Duties

Exposure to Substances: Particular General Duties


Compliance with any specific rules relating to exposure to substances does NOT of itself mean that the employer has fulfilled his particular general duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act that relate to such exposure. These particular general duties are set out below:

Plant Used in Relation to Substances

There is a duty upon the employer to provide plant (such as for extraction or ventilation, for a chemical process, for storage or transport of substances, etc.) that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health as regards his employees, and to maintain such plant so that it remains, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health as regards his employees.

Systems of Work with or near Substances

Any systems of work provided should be, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health as regards his employees. Such systems should be maintained so that they remain, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health as regards his employees.

Any Substances

Arrangements should be made for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and the absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of substances. Where the employer makes his premises available as a workplace for non-employees (e.g. allows on-site maintenance of equipment by a contractor's staff, or rents out an office or workshop to another firm), or as a place where non-employees may use plant or substances provided for their use (e.g. a school's pupils, a launderette's customers, or swimmers using a pool), the employer must take such measures as it is reasonable for a person in his position to take to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that any substance in the premises or provided for use there is safe and without risks to health as regards non-employees.

Information about Risks of Substances

Such information as may be necessary must be provided to employees or to any other person as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of the employees.

Instructions on Avoiding Risks of Substances

The employer should provide such instruction as may be necessary to employees or to any other person as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees.

Training to Avoid Risks of Substances

Such training as may be necessary must be provided to employees or to any other person as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees.

Supervision to Avoid Risks of Substances

The employer is obliged to provide such supervision as may be necessary to employees or to any other person as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees.

Maintenance of Workplace Free from Risks of Substances

There is a general duty to maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, any place of work under the employer's control in a condition that is safe and without risks to health as regards his employees.

Getting To And From The Workplace Without Risks From Substances

The employer is required to provide, so far as is reasonably practicable, means of access to and egress from any place of work under the employer's control that are safe and without risks to health as regards his employees. In addition he should take steps to maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, means of access to and egress from any place of work under the employer's control so that they remain safe and without risks to health as regards his employees.

Working Environment Free from Risks of Substances

The working environment provided for employees should be so that it is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health.

To comply with these particular general duties it may be necessary to do more than is required by specific rules. It is necessary to do more if the cost, time and effort of doing more is justified for achieving a greater reduction of a risk than can be achieved by merely complying with specific rules.

Example:

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH), the employer has no obligations as regards the risk of explosion when handling a powder, although he has COSHH obligations concerning the risk of cancer posed by the same powder. However, the employer's obligations as regards preventing or minimising the risk of explosion exist in his particular general duties.

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