UK Workplace Safety Legislation

Legislation is National Law. National enforcement bodies such as HSE, Trading Standards and HM Customs and Excise enforce National Law and make prosecutions under it.

Much of the UK law relating to Machinery, Work Equipment and Workplace safety is now the UK implementation of the requirements of EU Directives. The aim of this is to attempt to harmonise requirements throughout the EU to give a "level playing field", preventing one country competing unfairly because its standards are lower.

It is also possible for the EU to issue Regulations. These have direct legal effect in member states. They are not very commonly used in the safety field at present.

The UK legislation most relevant to Machinery and Workplace safety is:-

HSAW - Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
Imposes general duties of care on all persons in the workplace that includes duties of care of employers to workers and the public but also for employees to each other and to the public.

MHSWR -Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
These impose duties on employers. They include a requirement to carry out risk assessments for all work activities.

PUWER - Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations 1998
These impose requirements on providers and users of industrial equipment to ensure that they can be used safely. They overlap with the Supply of Machinery Regulations.

SOMR - Supply of Machinery Regulations 2008
These are the UK implementation of the EU Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC which covers CE marking of Machinery. It imposes duties on suppliers of machinery (including people who make machinery for their own use)

EMCR - Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2006
These are the UK implementation of the EU Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive 2004/108/EC which covers CE marking of all equipment with potential to cause or suffer from EMC effects. It primarily imposes duties on equipment manufacturers.

PER - Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999
These are the UK implementation of the EU Pressure Equipment Directive 97/23/EC. They cover equipment working under pressure. Another CE marking Directive placing responsibilities on manufacturers.
Simple Pressure Vessels Regulations may also be applicable to pressurised systems like accumulators, tanks and vessels. 

Although the list above are the major requirements, there are many other regulations covering general aspects such as noise, electricity and hazardous substances. There are also regulations covering specific aspects such as asbestos, gas installations or power presses.

SafeMech can guide you through the maze of different requirements to ensure that you prioritise and meet the ones which are most important to you.

You can download a useful guide to more workplace regulations from the UK HSE website here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do I comply with EU Directives or UK Regulations?
A. UK Regulations implement EU Directives. The Directive themselves have a legal force on EU member states to enact national legislation to implement their requirements, but the Directives themselves have no direct legal effect on EU manufacturers.

Q. Which UK Government Department is reponsible for implementing EU Directives?
A. BIS - UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (was BERR and then DTI before that) are responsible for implementing and monitoring most EU Directives which affect UK industry. One of their aims is to ensure that EU requirements do not place unfair and unequal requirements on UK industry.

Q. Are UK regulations an exact transcription of EU Directives?
A. National Governments aim to all make implementations of Directives which impose exactly equal requirements throughout the EU.
BIS are always interested to hear about any differences between Directive text and UK law or differences in National implementations.

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