Some of the most important legal duties under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR) is an essential piece of legislation that sets out the responsibilities of employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. This blog post will take a closer look at the MHSWR and what it means for employers and employees.

What is the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999?

The MHSWR is a set of regulations that came into force on 29 December 1999. The regulations require employers to assess their employees’ health and safety risks and take measures to eliminate or control those risks.

The regulations apply to all employers, regardless of the organisation’s size, and cover all aspects of health and safety in the workplace. This includes areas such as the working environment, work equipment, hazardous substances, and the management of emergencies.

The ‘Management Regs.’ introduced the general requirement for risk assessment in the UK. Where other more specific legislation requires a risk assessment (e.g. CoSHH – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations), complying with the specific requirement will also fulfil the general requirement.

What are the responsibilities of employers under the MHSWR?

Under the MHSWR, employers have several responsibilities, including:

Regulation 3: Risk assessment

Places an absolute duty (i.e. shall) on the employer (or self-employed person) to make a ‘suitable and sufficient‘ assessment of the risks. This must cover risks that employees are exposed to at work and persons not in his employment are exposed to, arising out of or in connection with the work.


  • A specific risk assessment of the risks to young persons
  • Review and revision of risk assessments if the workplace changes significantly or if there are any grounds to believe it is no longer valid
  • Employers with five or more employees to keep a record of the significant findings of the risk assessment.

Regulation 4: Principles of Prevention

Employers must introduce preventive and protective measures to control the risks identified by the risk assessment (aka risk control measures). A set of principles to be followed in identifying the appropriate measures is set out below. Employers should use these to direct their approach to identifying and implementing control measures.

  • If possible, avoid risk altogether, e.g. do the work differently, taking care not to introduce new hazards;
  • Evaluate risks that cannot be avoided by carrying out a risk assessment;
  • combat risks at source rather than taking downstream measures;
  • Adapt work to the individual (consulting those affected when designing workplaces, selecting work and personal protective equipment and drawing up working and safety procedures and production methods). Aim to alleviate monotonous work and paced working at a predetermined rate, and increase the control individuals have over work they are responsible for;
  • Take advantage of technological and technical progress, which often offers opportunities for improving working methods and making them safer;
  • Implement risk prevention measures as part of a coherent policy and approach. This will progressively reduce those risks that cannot be prevented or avoided. It will also consider how work is organised, the working conditions, the environment and any relevant social factors. Health and safety policy statements required under section 2 of HASAWA should be prepared and applied by reference to these principles;
  • Give priority to those measures which protect the whole workplace and everyone who works there and so provide the most significant benefit (i.e. give collective protective measures priority over individual measures);
  • Ensure that workers, whether employees or self-employed, understand what they must do;
  • A positive health and safety culture should exist within an organisation. That means avoiding, preventing and reducing risks at work must be accepted as part of the organisation’s approach and attitude to all its activities. It should be recognised at all levels of the organisation, from junior to senior management.

Regulation 5: Health and safety arrangements

The employer must implement appropriate management controls to ensure the effective planningorganisationcontrolmonitoring and review of all risk control measures.

This regulation makes it law that employers put some sensible Health and Safety Management Systems (HSMS) in place. Element 2 of this course covers how to do this.

Regulation 7: Health and safety assistance

Employers must have access to competent help complying with health and safety laws. In particular, they need skilled help in devising and applying risk controls unless they can undertake the measures without assistance.

When seeking competent assistance, employers should look to appoint one or more of their employees with the necessary means to provide the health and safety assistance required.

What if there is no relevant competent worker in the organisation? In that case, the employer should enlist an external service or person. In some circumstances, a combination of internal and external competence might be appropriate.

Regulation 8: Procedures for serious and imminent danger and for danger areas

The employer is required to:

  • Implement appropriate procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger arising in the workplace.
  • Appoint enough competent persons to implement evacuation procedures.
  • Restrict access to ‘danger areas’ to those employees who have received adequate instruction and training regarding the risks and controls.

Regulation 10: Information for employees

The employer should provide employees with relevant, understandable information regarding the following:

  • the risks to their health and safety
  • the preventive and protective measures
  • the procedures for serious and imminent danger and danger areas, including the identity of the competent persons appointed for evacuation procedures
  • the risks created by another employer while sharing a workplace

The information is provided to the parent or guardian where a child is employed.

Regulation 13: Capabilities and training

An employee’s capabilities for health and safety shall be considered before the employer allocates them work.

Employees are to be provided with adequate health and safety training:

  • on recruitment
  • on being exposed to new or increased risks because of changes in responsibility; work equipment; new technology; or new systems of work

What are the responsibilities of employees under the MHSWR?

Under the MHSWR, employees have several responsibilities, including:

Regulation 14: Employees’ duties

All employees are required to:

  • Use any machinery, equipment, dangerous substance, transport equipment, means of production or safety device according to health and safety training and instruction.
  • Inform the employer (or employee with specific responsibility) of any work situation which represents a serious and immediate danger to health and safety and of any shortcomings in the protection arrangements for health and safety.

What are the benefits of complying with the MHSWR?

Complying with the MHSWR has many benefits for both employers and employees. Some of the benefits include:

  1. Reduced risk of workplace accidents and illnesses – By identifying and controlling the risks in the workplace, the likelihood of accidents and illnesses is reduced.
  2. Increased productivity – A safe and healthy workplace can lead to increased productivity. Employees are less likely to be absent due to illness or injury.
  3. Improved employee morale – When employees feel safe and valued in the workplace, their morale is improved, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced staff turnover.
  4. Legal compliance – Complying with the MHSWR is a legal requirement, and failure to do so can result in fines and legal action.

In conclusion, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 is an essential piece of legislation that outlines the responsibilities of employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. By complying with the regulations, employers can create a safe and healthy workplace that benefits both employees and the organisation.