1.What Are The Weight Lifting Limits For Males And Females?
There are no legally binding weight limits.However
Regulation 4(1) of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 sets safety standards for manual handling.
Your employer must:
the need for manual handling as far as is reasonably
·where that is not possible, assess the risk of injury to employees; and
·reduce the risk of injury from manual handling as far as is reasonably
Avoiding the Need for Manual Handling
Your employer must try to eliminate the need for manual lifting.If this is not possible your employer should consider using mechanical lifting, for example by using a fork lift truck.
the Risk of Injuries to Employees
Under the 1992 Regulations your employer must carry out a risk assessment.This must take into account the tasks; the loads involved; the working environment; an individual’s
capacity; and whether movement is hindered by personal protective equipment or clothing.
Reducing the Risk of Injury
Your employer must reduce the risk from lifting as far as is reasonably practicable.This means reducing the risk until the cost of further precautions - either in time, trouble or money -
outweighs the benefits.Your employer must consider using mechanical aids.Even small measures such as a sack truck can reduce the risk of injury.
Your employer should also consider training in lifting technique. This should look at:
·how to recognise potentially harmful manual
·training in good handling technique;
·using mechanical aids;
·how to use any safety systems in place
for preventing injury.
2.What Are The Maximum And Minimum Temperatures For Working?
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (Regulation 7) require employers to
ensure that the temperature in all workplaces during working hours is ‘reasonable’.
There is no legal definition for a maximum or minimum temperature.However, the Workplace Regulations Approved Code of Practice states that the minimum temperature should normally be
16 degrees Celsius.Where work is of a physical nature 13 degrees Celsius is
allowed.There is no recommended maximum temperature.
Where temperatures are likely to be high, employers should take ‘all reasonable steps’
to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature, for example by:
·insulating hot plants or pipes;
·providing air cooling plant;
·sitting workstations away from places
subject to radiant heat;
·providing, free of charge, a plentiful
supply of cool drinks;
·ensuring that staff take regular breaks;
·relaxing clothing rules to allow staff
to wear cool, loose fitting clothes.This should not include clothes provided
for protective reasons.
In chilled temperatures for some food production, employers should consider:
·enclosing or insulating the product;
·pre-chilling the product;
·keeping chilled areas as small as possible;
·exposing the product to workroom temperatures
as briefly as possible.
This should also be coupled with rotating chilled and warmer work; personal protective clothing;
and breaks in warm areas.
Employers should provide thermometers around the workplace to allow Safety Representatives to
monitor workplace temperature.
3.What Rest Breaks Am I Entitled To?
The Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended) provide statutory rights to a rest break for most workers in
Britain. The Regulations entitle you to:
a 20 minute rest break for every 6 hours worked. The rest break should
be taken within the six hours and not at the beginning or end.
11 consecutive hours of rest per 24 hour period;
one day off each week (This day off should be taken with the 11 hours
referred to above meaning that you are entitled to at least 35 consecutive hours off work once a week).
There are tighterlegal controls on the working hours of young workers aged between
16 and 17. Their working hours are limited to:
Where a young worker (i.e. 16 to 17 year old) is required to work for more than four and a half hours at a stretch,
he or she is entitled to a rest break of 30 minutes. If a young worker is working for more than one employer, the time s/he
is working for each one should be added together to see if they are entitled to a rest break. A young worker’s entitlement
to breaks can be reduced or excluded in exceptional circumstances only. Where this occurs, the young worker should receive
compensatory rest within 3 weeks.
A young worker is entitled to 12 uninterrupted hours in each 24-hour period in which they work. The rest may be interrupted
if periods of work are split up over the day or do not last long.
A young worker’s entitlement to daily rest can be reduced or excluded in exceptional circumstances only. Where
this occurs, the young worker should receive compensatory rest within 3 weeks.
Young workers are entitled to two days off each week. This cannot be averaged over a two-week period, and should
normally be two consecutive days.
If the nature of the job makes it unavoidable, a young worker’s weekly time off can be reduced to 36 hours,
subject to them receiving compensatory rest
Drivers of vehicles under 3.5 tonnes and those subject to tachograph rules are entitled to ‘adequate’
rest periods, rather than a prescribed time period.The rest should be adequate
enough to prevent accidents and injuries caused by fatigue or irregular working patterns.
Some occupations requiring continuity may be exempted from the rest break provision these include:
Some security guards/caretakers
Work at docks or airports
Gas, water and electricity production or distribution
Industries where work cannot be interrupted on technical grounds
Where there is a foreseeable surge of activity including tourism
However, workers in these occupations are still entitled to periods of equivalent compensatory rest which should
be taken as soon as possible after their breaks have been delayed.It
may be possible to ensure that these exemptions are only invoked when management are caught out by unexpected events e.g.
power failures or major incidents.
You can complain to an employment tribunal if your employer refuses to allow you to have rest breaks.
4.What Facilities And Time Off Is A Safety Representative Entitled To?
The Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations 1977 state that Safety Representatives
should be given ‘facilities and assistance’ to carry out inspections in the workplace and inspect the premises
following an accident.This includes:
·Employers must provide Safety Reps with
relevant health and safety information [Reg 7(1)];
·Allowing Safety Reps private discussion
with members [Reg 5(3) and 6(2)]
·Allowing Safety Reps to publicise actions
to be taken following inspections (Guidance Note: para 21)
·Allowing Safety Reps to bring in ‘technical
advisors’ (Guidance Note 26).
·Time off with pay for the investigation
of potential hazards and members’ complaints (Reg 4(2);
·The right to carry out an inspection of
the workplace (Reg 5):
(1)every three months;
(2)after a notifiable accident or dangerous occurrence;
(3)after substantial changes to the workplace
or work process;
(4)after new information is received from
the Health and Safety Executive, a supplier or manufacturer;
·The right to consult with members, HSE/Enforcing
Authority Inspectors and the employer (Reg 4);
·The right to attend designated training
courses (Approved Code of Practice to Reg 4 (2));
·The right to attend Safety Committee meetings
(ACoP to Reg 4(2));
·The right to be consulted ‘in good
time’ on relevant health and safety matters;
·Details of GMB Safety Reps’ recommended
facilities are given on page 9 of the GMB Safety Reps’ Handbook.
·The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
(section 2(7)) place a duty on employers to set up a Safety Committee within 3 months of being requested to do so by two trade
union appointed Safety Representatives.Section 9 of the SRSC Regulations also
gives this power to Safety Reps.
5.Am I Entitled To Have An Eye Test For VDU Work?
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 require employers to provide, upon
request, an appropriate eye and eyesight test to VDU users.
The eye and eyesight test should be conducted by an optician, or a doctor who is suitably qualified.The test should include a vision screening test and an examination of the eyes.In practice, this means a full eye test as carried out by an ophthalmic optician,
although many companies offer the more limited vision screening tests.Vision screening is not a full eye and eyesight test, which employees can insist upon.
The employer can specify which optician carries out the tests, although many VDU workers simply visit
a High Street optician.The cost of the
test must be met by the employer.
The DSE regulations require that eye and eyesight tests be provided:
·as soon as practicable after existing
display screen users have made their request;
·when somebody is newly recruited or is
transferred to carry out VDU work and at regular intervals thereafter, depending on the judgment of the optician or doctor
(this will vary for individuals, with yearly or two-yearly intervals being the most common); and
·when users are experiencing visual difficulties,
such as eyestrain or problems with focussing, which may reasonably be considered to be related to the VDU work.
Following the eye test, the optician may prescribe “special corrective appliances” (normally
spectacles) to be worn when carrying out VDU work.For instance, some people
who already wear spectacles or contact lenses may need a different lens for correcting their vision to work at the screen.
If the optician prescribes glasses specifically for VDU work, the employer must pay the cost of these.However, the 1992 Regulations limit the employer’s liability to the cost of
providing a “basic appliance”.The employer is not obliged to pay
for designer frames, or for optional treatment to lenses (tints, special coatings etc).If employees want a better looking or “nicer” pair of glasses, most employers will pay a proportion of
the costs (e.g. £50) and expect the employee to fund the excess.
If you require any more advice or information on working with VDUs please contact your GMB Regional
Health and Safety Officer.
6.What Is The Law On Toilets And Washing Facilities?
Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, require all employers to provide access to toilet and washing facilities,
and (within workplaces) a supply of drinking water.
and washrooms must be kept clean, adequately lit and ventilated; provide adequate protection from the weather; ensure privacy
for the user; and provide toilet paper, soap, clean hot and cold (or warm) water, and towels or an alternative means of drying.Toilets and washrooms must be provided at readily accessible places.The facilities do not have to be within the workplace, but they should if possible be within the building.Where arrangements are made for the use of facilities provided by someone else, it
is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that they are available when necessary (i.e. not locked when workers need
access to them).
The use of public facilities is only acceptable as a last resort, where no other arrangement is
facilities should be provided to enable workers to use them without undue delay.The
minimum numbers are set out in the tables below - the 2nd table may be used if
the facilities are only used by men.More may be required if a great many workers
need to use them at the same time, or when facilities provided for workers are also used by members of the public.
Minimum Number of Toilets and Washbasins
NUMBER OF PEOPLE AT WORK
NUMBER OF WATER CLOSETS
NUMBER OF WASHSTATIONS
1 to 5
6 to 25
26 to 50
51 to 75
76 to 100
Minimum Number if Used Only by Men
NUMBER OF MEN AT WORK
NUMBER OF WATER CLOSETS
NUMBER OF URINALS
1 to 15
16 to 30
31 to 45
46 to 60
61 to 75
76 to 90
91 to 100
you require any more advice or information on this issue please contact your GMB Regional Health and Safety Officer.
7.Can My Employer
Charge Me For Personal Protective Equipment Such As Safety Shoes?
The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 say
that where there is a risk of injury or ill health to a worker that cannot be reduced or removed, your employer must provide
personal protective equipment (PPE) free of charge.
PPE includes most protective clothing and
equipment e.g. hard hats, safety spectacles, and face masks.
is the least effective form of protection from hazards at work.It only protects
the worker from the risk of injury, rather than removing or controlling the hazard at source.It should always be used as a last resort.The 1992 Regulations state
that the type of PPE required should be determined by risk assessment.It is
vital to involve and consult the workforce when selecting equipment.
PPE should be CE-marked.CE equipment conforms to the standards required under the
Under the Regulations your employer must also:
·Maintain, clean and replace PPE where necessary
·Provide storage for PPE when it is not being
·Ensure that PPE is properly used
·Ensure that training, information and
instruction on using PPE is given to employees.
work clothes, uniforms and work clothing not worn to protect the worker, are not PPE.So it is lawful for a contract of employment to allow the employer to charge for such clothes, or to insist on the
worker providing them at his/her own cost.It is important to negotiate suitable
terms and conditions to prevent this happening.
Think That There Is Asbestos In My Workplace.What Should I Do?
an extremely hazardous substance.Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres
can lead to asbestos related diseases including cancer.
There are three
main types of asbestos:
Crocidolite (blue asbestos)
Amosite (brown asbestos)
Chrysotile (white asbestos)
For the untrained
eye asbestos can be difficult to identify and doesn’t necessarily have a colour.It
is most commonly found in buildings built or refurbished before 1985. Examples
of materials containing asbestos include insulating boards, boiler lagging and ceiling tiles.
are released when the materials containing asbestos are damaged through construction work e.g. drilling into insulating boards
or when the material becomes worn or breaks.
In 1999 the
UK banned the use and import of white asbestos, brown and blue have
been banned for some time.However, there is still a lot of asbestos present in
workplaces and other buildings which could present a risk to building and maintenance workers as well as other workers.
From 21st May 2004, Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002
requires people in control of work premises (this could be the owner, the occupier and/or a managing agent) to:
·Determine the location and condition of
materials likely to contain asbestos
·Presume materials contain asbestos unless
there is strong evidence that they do not.
·Make and keep an up to date record of
the location and condition of materials containing asbestos or presumed asbestos in the building
·Assess the risk of anyone being exposed
to asbestos fibres from these materials
·Prepare a plan on how these risks are
to be managed
·Review and monitor the plan
·Provide information on the location and
condition of the materials to anyone likely to disturb them e.g. contractors or building maintenance workers.
of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 also require employers to prevent asbestos exposure to employees working with asbestos
or if this is not possible control exposure to the lowest possible level e.g. through the use of protective equipment.Employers must carry out an assessment of the likely exposure (who and how much they
may be exposed to) before starting any work with asbestos.
(Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations 1998 requires work with certain types of asbestos materials e.g. asbestos insulating board
and coating to be licensed.Anyone carrying out such work must have a licence
from the Health and Safety Executive and must comply with the terms of the licence.
contractors who fail to comply with these regulations face heavy fines and even prison sentences.
think that they are being exposed to asbestos at work should contact their GMB Representative who has access to specialist
GMB, Will Thorne House, 2 Birmingham Road, Halesowen, West Midlands, B63 3HP