Legal requirements

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Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974

This Act places a legal duty on employers to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of employees, and to ensure that employees and others are kept safe.

Under the Act you have an obligation to ensure any potential risk of work-related violence is eliminated or controlled.

If you have five or more employees you must have a written health and safety policy statement, setting out how you manage health and safety in your organisation.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) 1999

These Regulations require employers to consider the health and safety risks to employees and to carry out a risk assessment to protect employees from exposure to reasonably foreseeable risks. Those risks include work-related violence. A risk assessment is an examination to:

If you have five or more employees you must record the significant findings of your risk assessment and any groups of employees identified by it as being especially at risk. In addition, employers have a requirement to appoint competent people, set up emergency procedures, provide information to employees and work together with employers sharing the same workplace.

Employees, on the other hand, are required to use the information/training they have received, and to report dangerous situations/shortcomings in health and safety arrangements.

Hierarchy of control

The law requires you, as an employer, to carry out risk reduction using a clear hierarchy of controls. Where it is reasonably practicable to do so, you should always adopt the following controls in descending order of priority:

  1. Eliminate the risk completely by removing the hazard, eg arrange for a competent security company to handle your cash-in-transit procedures; exclude known troublemakers.
  2. Where elimination is not possible or reasonably practicable in the circumstances, you should substitute a hazardous activity or process with one which is less hazardous or use improved equipment or technical solutions that reduces the level of risk, eg ensure that high-value goods are effectively tagged; use CCTV or improved surveillance by staff.
  3. If this is not possible you should redesign the equipment or work activity to reduce the risks, eg arrange for cash handling to be carried out in a secure area or when the premises are closed to the public rather than in front of customers; redesign the layout of the workplace to give better lines of sight and better CCTV coverage.
  4. If redesign is not possible it may be reasonably practicable to physically remove exposed people from risk, eg help to provide safe transport home for staff working late.
  5. Finally, you should put in place controls such as training, safe systems of work and personal protective measures.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995

Under these Regulations, employers must make a report to the Incident Contact Centre in the event of an accident to an employee resulting in death, major injury or absence from work for three or more days. Incidents involving members of the public which result in them being taken directly to hospital must also be reported. This includes violent incidents that result in physical injury. However, RIDDOR does not cover threats and verbal abuse.

Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977

Safety Representatives nominated by recognised trade unions represent all staff on all matters of health and safety and can be an effective way of reducing the likelihood of accidents and ill health.

Under the above Regulations, employers are legally required to consult with any nominated representatives in their workplaces.

Safety representatives can take up any issues of concern and they have legal rights to:

Under the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996, employers must inform and consult with employees on all matters relating to their health and safety.

The Licensing Act 2003

England and Wales

The Act applies to premises licensed for the sale of alcohol, the provision of regulated entertainment or the provision of late night refreshment. The Act, which came into force in November 2005, promotes four objectives, namely:

Your local authority is the Licensing Authority and conditions, reflecting the above four objectives, can be placed onto a 'premises licence'.

In cases where the licensing objectives are not being promoted despite warnings, a 'premises licence' may be reviewed either by a 'responsible authority' (environmental health, police, trading standards etc) or 'interested party' (a person or body living in the vicinity of that premises).

The Licensing Authority must, having regard to the application and representations made, take such steps as follows for the promotion of the licensing objectives:

Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005

There is a new system of alcohol licensing being introduced in Scotland. Alcohol licensing is the responsibility of the Scottish Government. Any premises wishing to sell alcohol must obtain a licence from a local licensing board. The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 aims to simplify and modernise the existing legislation. It also balances the rights of the majority of people who drink responsibly against the need to protect local communities from nuisance and crime associated with misuse of alcohol.

The change to this new system began on 1 February 2008. Between then and 1 September 2009, all existing licence holders will have to convert to the new types of licence under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.

Updated 2022-10-17