Motor traders – Are you breaking the law? Part two – Health and Safety requirements

Just like any other employer, if your motor trade business employs other people (mechanics, technicians, salesmen, forecourt attendants or in any other capacity) – you have what is called a general duty of care to prevent them being injured at work, or from suffering any other loss or damage.

This duty of care is a general principle of English law. However, there is also a raft of statutory legislation giving fuller force to your responsibilities for ensuring the health and safety of your employees at work.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of this legislation may be found in various articles of health and safety legislation – the gist of which is explained by the Health and Safety Executive.

Employers’ responsibilities under Health and Safety legislation

he legislation imposes on employers a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business.

In the exercise of that duty, employers must take all reasonable and practicable steps to fulfil their responsibilities and obligations.

In some areas, the legislation is not specific about the practical measures to be taken by the employer. Due to this, it’s in the employer’s own interests to put into writing a code of conduct, rules regarding supervision and training, and guidance on safety procedures – the more detailed these written policies the better.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) itself publishes leaflets and posters on health and safety in the workplace. The legislation requires employers to put on prominent display approved posters on the subject, and to provide every employee with a copy of the HSE’s booklet, Health and Safety Law: What you need to know.

Specific health and safety regulations

The 1990s saw a raft of specific regulations giving legal effect to the broader principles of general health and safety legislation, key features of which are:

  • the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (Management Regulations) – makes it the employer’s legal responsibility to conduct a risk assessment of the work place and to implement safety measures accordingly, and, where there are five or more employees, that assessment must be periodically reviewed and recorded;
  • the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 – deal principally with the working environment;
  • the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 – covers standards regarding suitability, inspection and maintenance of machines used in the workplace;
  • the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (Manual Handling Regulations) – concerns risks associated with the manual handling of items such as materials, stock and equipment;
  • the Personal Protective Equipment Work Regulations 1992 (PPE) – just as it says, regulations with respect to protective clothing and equipment which must be worn or used by employees; and
  • the Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 & 2002 – regulations regarding the use of employees regularly required to sit at IT screens for sustained periods of time.

Breaches of these varied health and safety regulations may not only put you the wrong side of the law, but may also adversely affect the validity of your business insurance. To help ensure that this does not happen to you, consult the specialists in the health and safety implications of your business insurance cover by giving us a call today, here at Aston Scott, on 03300 085045.

Or visit our Health and Safety section to find out more about our wide range of health and safety services to help employers to reduce their risk, improve safety and wellbeing for employees, to ensure that your organisation is legally compliant.


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