Safety Legislation Update – October 2012
It is a year since Professor Löfstedt published his review on health and safety reform. Professor Löfstedt, Director of the King’s Centre for Risk Management at King’s College London chaired a committee tasked, by the government, to reduce the burden of unnecessary regulations on businesses, whilst maintaining Britain’s high performance in safety. In general the report concluded that health and safety law in the UK is fit for purpose, however, he identified some legislation that needed to be reviewed and updated. This review followed hot-on-the-heels of Lord Young’s review in 2010 entitled ‘Common Sense, Common Safety’. During 2012 we have seen the impact of their recommendations, with more due over the next couple of years.
Changes that came into force on 1st October 2012
Smoke Free (Signs) Regulations 2012
In July 2007 the Smoke Free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 came into force. These regulations prohibit smoking in the workplace or public place in enclosed or substantially enclosed areas. This means that virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces became smoke free, including offices, rest rooms, pubs, clubs private members clubs, cafes, restaurants, shopping centres and work transport.
Licensed vehicles such as taxis and minicabs must be smoke-free at all times. Even if the vehicle is being used as a private car and the driver is off duty they cannot smoke in their vehicle.
The legislation covers all company and work vehicles, like delivery vans and lorries, that are used by more than one person. Even if there is only one person in it, and more than one person sometimes uses the vehicle, it has to be smoke-free at all times.
Smoking in smoke-free premises or vehicles is against the law and the perpetrator is liable to a fine, if caught. The person with management responsibility for the premises or vehicle is legally responsible for preventing smoking as well.
Smoke-free law is enforced by local councils and port health authorities, within the areas for which they have responsibilities. The penalties and fines for the smoke-free offences set out in the Health Act 2006 are:
- smoking in a smoke-free premises or vehicle: a fixed penalty notice of £50 (discounted to £30 if paid within 15 days from the issue of a notice) or a fine by a court not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale (up to £200)
- failure to display no-smoking signs in smoke-free premises and vehicles as required by the law: a fixed penalty notice of £200 (discounted to £150 if paid within 15 days from the issue of a notice) or a fine by a court not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (up to £1,000)
- failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free premises or vehicle: a fine by a court not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale (up to £2,500)
The Smoke Free (Signs) Regulations 2007, which supported the Smoke Free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 has been revoked. The 2007 regulations were very specific on what type of signage must be used and where it must be displayed. The new regulations relax the rules on signage and premises owners are only required to display a legible no smoking symbol somewhere on the premises or vehicle. Unlike the 2007 regulations they no longer need to be displayed at the entrance to buildings and neither do they need to be a specified size and design.
Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012
The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations, commonly referred to as the Fee For Intervention (FFI). FFIs are only applied when there is a ‘material breach of health and safety law’ which requires an HSE inspector to make a formal intervention through letter, email, and instant visit report or prosecution. The breach could be a lack of machine guarding resulting from a technical breach, such as inadequate risk assessments, lack of policy documents, etc. An inspector’s time will be charged at £124 per hour and will be applied from the beginning of the visit for which that material breach was identified through to the point that the problem is rectified. The costs have the potential to mount-up significantly.
For more information about changes in safety legislation in 2012 and in the future click here for our Safety Legislation Update 2012.