The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999 has become a principal piece of UK legislation, and is a key part of the attempt to enforce the health and safety movement in the UK. MHSWR was created to supplement and reinforce the importance of health and safety which was first highlighted in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. As an organisation or a business in the UK, it is the employer’s, employees’ and contractors’ responsibilities to comply with MHSWR to ensure that health and safety is maintained.

Following the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, there was an increase in the commitment to health and safety in the UK. This was a movement which had previously not received such strong commitment before legislation was introduced to really enforce it. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 was introduced to really reinforce and encourage more compliance and commitment to the health and safety movement in the UK.

What responsibilities does the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999 place on employers?

MHSWR focuses on the responsibilities of employers and employees. This ranges from clients to principal contractors and designers. MHSWR states that the following responsibilities are expected:

– A risk assessment must be undertaken.

– The creation of a well-communicated prevention policy which must be understood by both employers and employees. This policy will refer to technology, the organisation of the workplace, the relationships which exist within the workplace and the workplace environment.

– Appropriate and competent employees must be designated with the responsibility to look at health and safety measures and form a health and safety team within the business.

– Ensure that all employees and work associates are aware of the health and safety measures in the workplace. This can be ensured through training.

– Employees should be aware that it is their responsibility to report the organisation that they are working for if the health and safety standards are poor and that MHSWR is not being complied with.

What will happen if an employer does not comply with MHSWR?

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Health and Safety Inspectors or local authority involved in the area are responsible for dealing with the given organisations and businesses found guilty of a lack of compliance with MHSWR. The repercussions which can be administered by the HSE and the local authorities include:

– Imprisonment can occur if an individual within the management team has been found guilty of breaking MHSWR law through severe negligence.

– A fine which can reach up to £20,000.

– The organisation’s reputation will be significantly tarnished in relation to the severity of what has occurred. For example, if an employee has been severely hurt, the lawsuit and case will be public knowledge and reported upon.

If an organisation wishes to protect all of its work associates, employees and customers, then it must uphold the health and safety standards set out in both MHSWR and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA) 1974. Training and knowledge of both of these acts is therefore of the utmost importance.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is one of the most prominent pieces of legislation used in the UK to establish regulations relating to health and safety in the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the responsible body for enforcing the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, ensuring it is appropriately complied with and administered in every workplace in the UK. Health and safety in the workplace is essential, especially when you consider the crippling lawsuits which have been filed against organisations and businesses in the past due to a lack of health and safety compliance. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your organisation complies with health and safety legislation in order to avoid severe repercussions and protect your staff.

Why was the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA) 1974 created?

In the 1970s, the health and safety in the workplace movement was underway following years of poor working conditions and deaths. In 1970 the US introduced the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the UK similarly introduced the Employed Persons (Health and Safety) Bill. The health and safety debate was beginning to circulate and the topic had a significant amount of light shed upon it, leading to the committee of inquiry chaired by Lord Robens to consider where the UK was going to take health and safety.

The HSWA’s introduction marked the completed effort to introduce health and safety into the UK properly. The HSWA was created to help organisations and businesses in the UK to comply with ‘organisational intent’ needed to support the new movement in health and safety, which was growing fast. From the 1970s onwards the health and safety movement was gathering momentum, and through the creation of legislation directly related to it, employers became aware of the importance of supporting it. Legislation ultimately encouraged the compliance of organisations with health and safety, so it was a successful change in tactics.

The HSWA creates a structure for health and safety in the workplace, meaning that good practice and requirements are clearer for management and employees to follow. Thus, the responsibility to communicate and comply with HSWA lies with the employer. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure health and safety exists within the workplace to protect the actions of all employees, customers and work associates. If an employer decides to ignore this duty or to simply undermine it through handling health and safety with a lack of commitment, then they will face the repercussions, which normally appear in the form of a lawsuit, a fine and the tarnishing of the organisation’s reputation.

If health and safety had not taken hold within the UK, the country would not have been able to advance in science and technology to allow professions such as space science to exist. Why would an individual agree to enter a rocket and fly into space if they were not aware that they had sufficient protection provided to them through health and safety legislation? The answer is, they wouldn’t. Health and safety regulations allow individuals to engage in professions which are so necessary, such as medical research, but through the assurance that they are being protected by their employer’s compliance with health and safety standards.

What will happen to an employer if they do not comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974?

The HSWA defines all of the regulatory duties for the employers, employees and contractors involved in any given organisation. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Health and Safety Commission are now the regulatory bodies responsible for ensuring HSWA is complied with, and these bodies possess substantial enforcement powers. These enforcement powers are supported by the threat of criminal action. For example, if an organisation is found guilty of lack of compliance with HSWA and this has resulted in the injury of one of the employees, they could be charged with a crime which can result in being imprisoned for up to two years, an unlimited fine and the subsequent tarnishing of the organisation’s reputation.
Compliance with HSWA is essential if an organisation wants to protect all of its employees and avoid any repercussions.

Water safety is essential in the home as well as in the workplace, to ensure that we do not expose ourselves to water-borne bacteria that can cause fatal diseases. The problem with lead in water systems is that it will allow lead to build up within the body and this can have adverse effects on mental development, and therefore this is especially serious in children. It is a requirement for organisations to actively monitor and regulate the levels of lead within water systems and food. Since the 1970s there has been a concerted effort to regulate levels of lead in water systems, following the realisation that lead can have severe effects on our health.

How can lead get into our water systems?

Although lead can naturally find its way into natural water reserves, in the UK lead should not be present within our public water network. This has only been the case since the 1970s, as before this lead was widely circulated around the environment due to its status as a vital component of everyday life. For example, water pipes were made of lead. Over time, some of this lead disintegrated and dissolved into the water carried within these pipes and was able to reach the individuals drinking the water.

Now, water pipes are strictly banned from being made from lead. However, this does not mean that in some older properties, that water pipes are not still harbouring some lead from decades before. Moreover, in areas of soft water, the likelihood of lead from these old pipes dissolving into the water is high due to the absence of scale protecting the water from the pipes.

How can you protect your organisation’s water systems from the possible risk of lead in water?

As previously stated, there are some areas which will be more vulnerable to the effects of lead in water than others. In these areas the responsible water system companies use orthophosphate in the water systems to reduce the buildup and effects of lead within the water.

What ways can be used to identify whether lead is present in your water systems?

The water companies within your area are ultimately the experts, and they will come out to your home or your workplace to test the tap water or water systems there to see if there is any lead present. The water company will know the likelihood of whether lead would be found within your piping or not; if your home or workplace has been modernised since the 1970s as well as the surrounding area, then the likelihood is that lead will not be in your pipes. Water companies will not charge for these services, and it is always best to contact them and carry out a test instead of being sorry.

What is lead poisoning?

Lead poisoning occurs if an individual has drunk a significant amount of water which is contaminated with lead over a long period of time and levels of lead have built up within the body, creating health problems. Health effects are significantly worse in children as children’s bodies and bones will absorb more lead than an adult due to their growth rate. The symptoms of health problems which are associated with lead poisoning include:

– Abdominal pain

– Weight loss due to a significant loss in appetite

– Fatigue

– Vomiting

– Constipation

– Hearing loss

– Problems and a delay in the mental development of the individual

– High blood pressure

– Muscle pain and joint pain

To avoid any health problems which may occur due to lead being present in water, it is your responsibility within your home and your employer’s responsibility at work to ensure water systems are regulated properly. Training and knowledge of the effects of lead in water systems will help you to improve water safety at home and in the workplace.

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The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) is the UK legislation which deals with the handling of hazardous substances in the workplace. Through conducting a risk assessment, compliance with COSHH can be much easier as these assessments will allow employers to identify where the hazardous substances are and how to subsequently protect against them. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure COSHH is complied with and upheld in the workplace appropriately. If this does not occur, the employer and responsible individuals will face severe repercussions.
How does COSHH ensure that individuals in the workplace are protected against hazardous substances?
The purpose of COSHH is to protect employers, employees, customers and work associates, and all who encounter a workplace which has hazardous substances on the premises, regardless of the form in which these hazardous substances present themselves. COSHH places the following responsibilities upon employers:
– Identifying hazardous substances in the workplace and the different forms in which they can present themselves.
– To conduct a risk assessment, which essentially identifies the hazardous substances and then distinguishes what appropriate control measures must be used to protect individuals against these substances.
– The employer must ensure that these control measures are upheld and maintained, such as making sure that each employee abides by these control measures.
– The employer must circulate and communicate the health and safety standards which have been established to protect against hazardous substances to all employees, ensuring every employee and work associate is aware of the relevant health and safety measures.
– There must be appropriate monitoring of these health and safety standards to ensure that if there are any changes in the workplace, the control measures need to reflect and take this into consideration.
– Planning needs to be arranged for emergencies also. There should be established emergency plans.

What is a substance hazardous to health?
For some organisations, this is easy enough to identify if the organisation creates harmful substances as a job. For example, chemistry labs creating certain substances.
However, harmful substances can occur in many different forms. For example, bleach and dust from a building site, or even paint, if is dealt with in the wrong manner can be harmful.
Ultimately, COSHH refers to substances harmful to health as the following:
– Fumes
– Gases and asphyxiating gases
– Biological agents, such as bacteria. This may occur more commonly in health care industries, for example legionella found in water systems, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease
– Chemicals
– Enzyme dust
What will happen if your organisation does not comply with COSHH?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are responsible for enforcing COSHH, and are subsequently responsible for the penalty system which will be administered if an organisation does not comply with COSHH. If an organisation does not comply, then the likelihood of an employee or customer becoming ill due to contact with a hazardous substance is vastly increased, and they could become severely ill. Therefore, punishment is not administered lightly.
The HSE prosecuted 551 organisations from 2010 to 2011, which was an increase of 9% from 2009. Of these 551 cases, 517 were convicted and there were fines that totalled £18.6 million. For example, in 2011 Catalent Pharam Solutions were faced with the crippling fine of £100,000 for lack of compliance with COSHH. This case was publicised heavily considering this organisation are in the health industry, yet they had failed to comply with regulations that have been put into place to protect the health of their employees through not carrying out a risk assessment.
To avoid prosecution, fines and the tarnishing of your organisation’s reputation, compliance with COSHH is absolutely essential. Moreover, it will ethically protect the health of all individuals involved with your organisation, and this compliance can be established easily through the implementation of training.

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Legionella is a type of bacteria which causes diseases, known under the collective term as Legionellosis. The most commonly known disease which is caused by Legionella is Legionnaires’ disease, as it is potentially fatal and can infect a large range of people. Legionella is found in water systems, whether this is natural water reservoirs such as lakes and rivers, or in man-made water systems such as spa pools, hot and cold water systems and cooling towers. If your workplace or home utilises water systems, which it will most likely do, you need to be aware of how to control the risk of legionella to protect all those involved from infection.

What will happen if an individual comes into contact with legionella bacteria?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has stated that although legionella has the potential to infect a large range of people, there are certain individuals who will be more susceptible to the fatal effects of legionella than others. These are:

– Individuals over the age of forty-five

– Smokers and heavy consumers of alcohol

– Individuals who suffer from kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease

– Individuals who have in impaired immune system are ultimately more vulnerable to the effects of legionella

As previously stated, legionella is found in natural and man-made water systems. However, they exist naturally in low numbers so the effects of legionella are lower. Yet when certain environmental variables change within the water environment, the number of legionella bacteria grows, and this can subsequently increase its fatal effects. This notably occurs when the temperature increases to 20-45 degrees and stimulates the production of more legionella bacteria. Deposits of rust and scale can also increase the growth of legionella bacteria.

Legionella is most commonly found in public places such as hospitals, the workplace or hotels more than at home. This is because public places have more exposure to bacteria and therefore bacteria can grow faster. The most common forms of water systems are air conditioning systems, showers, toilets and pools.

How is legionella contracted?

Individuals will become affected by legionella through inhaling small droplets of water which have the legionella bacteria in them. These small droplets of water will be suspended in the air and subsequently inhaled by the individuals around, leading them to become infected.

What are symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can reflect symptoms of the flu. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is always best to go and see your doctor just to double check whether you are suffering from a flu, or whether it is related to Legionnaires’ disease.

– A severe cough which does not go away after a sufficient period of time

– Muscle pains, and an overall achy feeling in your body

– You struggle with your breathing, which has not occurred before

– Severe pains in your chest

– You have a high temperature and feel like you have a severe case of the flu, such as a fever

– Confusion and headaches

– Headaches at times can lead on to symptoms of pneumonia

Treatment for Legionnaires’ disease will be administered at a hospital following diagnosis of the disease. Treatments are specific to each individual case and range from antibiotics, which may last up to three weeks, oxygen through a face mask or tubes and a machine to help you breath normally again. Luckily, once diagnosed, Legionnaires’ disease can be treated. However, it can take a while for the effects of the disease to be mitigated and therefore it is always best to avoid contracting such a disease in the first place.

To protect yourself and your colleagues, as well as family members, from legionella related diseases, you need to regulate and monitor the handling of your water systems. Training and knowledge of how to monitor and regulate water systems will help your management team and colleagues to all partake in the regulation of water safety.

A risk assessment is the health and safety requirement imposed upon all UK businesses and organisations. One must be carried out within the workplace to take into consideration every possible risk which may arise.

Legionella bacteria is found within water systems, and the majority of organisations contain water systems, whether this is to provide drinking water or showering systems to employees. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that these water systems are maintained to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria and to protect all individuals in the workplace.

Which steps are involved in a legionella risk assessment?

1) A risk assessment is conducted through identifying all possible risks which could occur due to the presence of legionella bacteria. Legionella bacteria is found within water systems, therefore for the employer or health and safety team which is responsible for conducting this risk assessment, they will be dealing with water systems. Legionella bacteria will multiply within a water system if the following two conditions appear:

-The water system is currently between 20–45 °C.


-If rust, sludge or scale is present within the water system.

2) Now, your health and safety team responsible for the risk assessment must take into consideration which individuals are most vulnerable to the transportation of legionella. Legionella bacteria is carried within water droplets, such as through aerosols or perhaps a shower. Therefore, if you have employees showering within your workplace, legionella bacteria could be circulated. Once legionella bacteria has infected an individual, this can turn into Legionnaires’ disease, which can be fatal. Legionnaires’ disease will affect certain individuals more than others, such as:

– Pregnant women

– Individuals over the age of forty-five

– Smokers and heavy consumers of alcohol

– Individuals who suffer from kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease

– Individuals who have an impaired immune system

It is your responsibility to identify whether any of the above individuals are currently working in the workplace.

3) Implement control measures to mitigate the identified risks. If you have identified that your water system is corrupted with scale, sludge or rust, then the appropriate control measures would either be to completely replace the water system or to give the water system a deep clean to remove sludge. Or, if your water system has been set at an inappropriate temperature which is allowing the multiplication of legionella bacteria, rectify this problem through contacting the appropriate individuals.

4) Record this whole process. This will allow your next risk assessment to be conducted with ease, as you will already be aware of where most of the previous risks have arisen, and therefore you can target these areas straight away.

5) Monitor and update your risk assessment. Conditions in the workplace are constantly changing and you probably have new employees joining all the time, and this calls for an updated risk assessment.

If a risk assessment is not conducted, and an individual falls ill via infection by legionella bacteria, the consequences can be fatal. For example, Legionnaires’ disease presents symptoms which can mimic flu symptoms, such as muscle pain, severe coughs and high temperatures. The treatment for Legionnaires’ disease involves admission to hospital, and therefore it should not be dealt with lightly.

Risk assessments related to legionella will protect so many individuals from the related illnesses which arise from infection via the legionella bacteria. It is an ethical and legal requirement for employers to carry out legionella risk assessments.

As an employer, health and safety is of the utmost important when it comes to the safety of all employees, work associates and customers. With regard to the control of legionella within the workplace, UK health and safety legislation has set out certain provisions and guidelines to help employers comply with their legal duties. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) takes into consideration how the growth and spreading of legionella can affect the workplace environment as well as your own domestic environment. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) is the complementary piece of UK legislation which also offers guidance regarding what is legally expected of an employer. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure everyone within your workplace environment is cared for, and you must be aware of the legal duties stated within all relevant UK health and safety laws.

Which UK laws state the legal duties to control legionella?

As an employer, you need to ensure that you are complying with all relevant UK health and safety legislation in order to avoid harming any of your customers or work associates. Moreover, it will protect your organisation from fines, imprisonment and damage to your reputation which will arise if it is publicised that your organisation did not maintain health and safety standards, leading to an individual falling ill due to infection by legionella bacteria. The legal duties to control legionella are set out in:

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA)

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR)


The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH)

Ensuring you are aware and well educated in the provisions stated in the above three sets of legislation will stand your organisation in good stead for complying with legal duties to control legionella.

To start, the main legal duties your organisation should be exercising in all matters related to health and safety are:

1) Carry out a risk assessment. Regarding controlling legionella, your responsibility is to conduct a risk assessment which analyses all possible outlets and instances where the legionella bacteria will be present or could multiply due to certain changes in conditions. Legionella will present a risk in water systems. Legionella bacteria will multiply and grow, thus presenting a more severe risk, if: the water system is between 20–45 °C or if rust, sludge or scale is present within the water system.

2) Manage these risks. If you have identified that legionella bacteria is growing within your organisation’s water system, then there is the potential for legionella bacteria to be spread via water droplets, which can be circulated from aerosols from cooling towers and within showers. Thus, you need to manage these risks. Legionella can be managed by ensuring the water system is not between the temperature of 20–45 °C and that the water system is updated and maintained regularly so that rust and scale cannot grow.

3) Take into consideration which employees, work associates and customers are at particular risk of infection by legionella bacteria. This is an important legal duty considering that certain individuals are more susceptible and vulnerable to legionella related diseases. Legionnaires’ disease will more likely infect an individual if they are pregnant, elderly or already have a weakened immune system. Take into consideration the individuals that you are dealing with in your workplace environment.

4) It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that this legionella related risk assessment process is documented and recorded. This record will subsequently allow your organisation to continually update your risk assessment procedures effectively, and if any incident were to occur, it means that your organisation has the relevant documents to prove that there was a concerted effort to control legionella.

It is essential as an employer to ensure that training for the management team and all employees in health and safety related matters regarding legionella is conducted.

Legionella is a type of bacteria which can be found in water systems and cause the fatal disease known as Legionnaires’ disease. It is a UK health and safety requirement for organisations to ensure that legionella is monitored within water systems, to ensure the safety of employees, work associates and customers is protected. If an individual becomes infected by legionella in the workplace, it is the employer who will face the repercussions, which include prosecution, a fine, possible imprisonment and the tarnishing of the organisation’s reputation.

What steps can be used to mitigate the risks of legionella in the workplace?

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) is the principal piece of UK legislation which instigated the movement of health and safety across the UK. HSWA establishes the regulations which an organisation and employer must comply with, to ensure that health and safety is maintained within the workplace. Since the 1970s the health and safety movement across the UK has had a huge impact, and there is no excuse for an organisation to exhibit a lack of compliance or commitment to health and safety standards.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) is the next piece of complementary health and safety legislation that dictates to employers what is expected of them, and similarly offers them advice and guidance on how to comply with health and safety standards. The established legislation available is a great starting point to analyse how you can mitigate the risks of legionella within the workplace.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) is more specific to the control of legionella within water systems, and offers even more guidance on how to adhere to health and safety standards when it comes to legionella.

It is the employer’s responsibility to monitor the risk of legionella exposure in the workplace, and the first place to start is to examine all regulations and guidance established within relevant UK health and safety legislation. Then, it is time to conduct a risk assessment. Risk assessments allow the employer to identify all possible risks, in this case relating to legionella exposure, and then subsequently protect against these risks by implementing control measures.

To identify the risks related to legionella, you can follow these steps:

– Legionella within a water system which is between 20–45 °C will increase legionella production. The temperature of your water system needs to be appropriately monitored.

– If rust, sludge or scale is present within the water system, this will encourage the growth of legionella, and therefore you need to monitor the standard of your water system.

– Legionella is transported in water droplets, which can be circulated from aerosols, from cooling towers, or within showers. If these are present in the workplace, it is likely that legionella will be transported around the premises.

– Some individuals are more susceptible and vulnerable to legionella related diseases, such as Legionnaires’ disease, than others. You need to consider the individuals you have in your workplace. If they are pregnant, elderly or already have a weakened immune system, they will consequently be more vulnerable.

Following this, you need to manage and monitor the risks related to legionella. This can be achieved through appointing competent and appropriate individuals to take charge of the controlling of legionella within the workplace. Control measures which may be implemented could include replacing your water system completely, due to it being saturated with rust for example.

This entire process must be recorded to allow the health and safety team within your organisation to constantly review whether control measures in place are working, or whether they need to be updated and replaced. Moreover, if an employee or individual does become infected by legionella within your workplace, if you have the appropriate records to prove that you have conducted a risk assessment, then it will stand in your favour.

Knowledge and training of legionella control is essential within the workplace to ensure that ultimately all individuals’ health and safety is protected, and to prevent your organisation from facing possible prosecution and fines should anything go wrong.