Safe workplaces – what does the law say?

Employment law in the United Kingdom isn’t the best, and we often have to advise our members that the law isn’t on their side when they encounter problems at work. The best way to protect you and your colleagues at work is by joining a trade union and organising so that your employer has to recognise the union.

Health & Safety law¬† is somewhat more helpful. It could be stronger, but it does offer some protection to workers who may find themselves being asked to return to work following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night (Sunday).

The Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights, Labour MP for Middlesbrough Andy McDonald, posted the following helpful thread on social media today (11 May). The overriding message to workers must be to join a trade union, wherever you work and whatever job you do. Statistics consistently show that unionised workplaces are safer workplaces.

“Through the years, the Labour movement has fought for legislation which regulates and restricts the risks to which workers are exposed. These aren’t matters of morality or good practice, they are statutory duties enforceable in the last resort by criminal sanctions.

“The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 require employers to provide suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In many businesses PPE may not be necessary against Covid-19 since the risk is minimal. But there are many jobs where it is crucial.

“The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require workplaces to be kept sufficiently clean and that washing facilities are readily available.

“The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers [to] actively make suitable and sufficient health and safety risk assessments to identify the measures needed to comply with those laws referenced above.

“Breach of all these duties is a criminal offence on the part of the employer and any other person responsible, such as a manager, according to the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

“The Employment Rights Act 1996 gives workers the right not to be penalised by their employer where they leave, or propose to leave, their place of work because of any reasonable belief of serious and imminent danger.

“Join a union now to get their help.”