Main dutyholder responsibilities under the HSW Act
The following is a summary of the main duties found under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act). It is not exhaustive.
Where an LA provides waste services in-house, it must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees, by virtue of section 2 of the Act. It will also have duties towards others who are not its employees by virtue of section 3 of the Act (see below).
Where an LA uses an external service provider (ie a contractor) to provide waste services, the LA in its client role has duties under section 3 of the Act to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that activities of the contractor do not adversely affect the health or safety of people who may be affected by those activities. Such people may include members of the public, employees of the authority or the contractor’s employees.
Further information is available on the interpretation of section 3 and relevant case law as it applies to clients (and contractors).
Moreover, given the LA’s role as client and service provider, senior officers (which may include elected members) should be aware of their responsibilities as individuals and the offences set out in sections 36 and 37 of the Act.
Further guidance is available on directors’ duties and the role of leadership in health and safety.
The contractor providing the service will also be responsible for the day-to-day operational health and safety of the service delivery, so far as is reasonably practicable, by virtue of their legal duties also found under sections 2 and 3 of the Act. Sections 36 to 37 may also apply to senior directors and managers of contracting organisations as individuals.
Both the LA and any external service provider will also have duties under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 including:
- Undertaking suitable and sufficient risk assessments;
- Making suitable health and safety arrangements;
- Providing information to employees and, where an external service provider has been appointed, to each other where appropriate; and
- Where an external service provider has been appointed, co-operating and coordinating with each other.
They must take action both individually and, where appropriate, in concert to eliminate or control risks to an acceptable level.
Both the LA and the service provider will also have duties under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 or the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 that require workers to be consulted on health and safety matters.
All of the legal responsibilities cited above will extend throughout the life of the contract.
Employees of both the LA and service providers must at all times take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their work, as well as co-operating with their employer, by virtue of section 7 of the Act.