The Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974
The main piece of legislation affecting the management of health and safety in educational establishments across all sectors is the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 (HSWA). This Act provides a framework for ensuring the health and safety of all employees in any work activity. It also provides for the health and safety of anyone who may be affected by work activities in eg pupils/students and visitors to educational sites, including parents and contractors.
In Northern Ireland, similar provisions are made by the Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978.
Employers and employees (as well as manufacturers, suppliers and the self-employed) must comply with the duties set out in the Act, which are summarised as follows.
  * Section 2 places a duty on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees as far as is reasonably practicable. It also requires employers to consult with trade union safety representatives on matters affecting health and safety in the workplace. Moreover, employers of more than five people must prepare a written health and safety policy and bring it to the attention of employees.
  * Section 3 requires employers to ensure that non-employees (eg pupils/students) who may be affected by work activities are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. Where young or vulnerable persons may be affected, the duty of care is greater.
  * Section 4 places a duty on anyone responsible for the workplace to ensure that the premises, plant and machinery do not endanger the people using them.
  * Section 5 requires employers to prevent and control harmful, noxious or offensive emissions into the atmosphere.
  * Section 6 places duties on designers, manufacturers and suppliers to ensure that articles and substances are safe for use.
  * Section 7 states that it is the duty of every employee while at work to take...