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January 2015 marks the fortieth anniversary of the creation of the Health and Safety Executive.
It came out of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 which heralded the start of the modern approach to health and safety at work.
Even though some people may moan and groan at the mention of health and safety there can be no doubt that the various laws which have been introduced in the following forty years have done enormous amounts to improve both the safety of workers and the public as a whole throughout the country.
These have included provisions aimed in relation to working with lead, controlling asbestos at work as well as hazardous substances more generally. They have also looked at the way we work, with Regulations covering matters such as the need for protective equipment and ways in which lifting and carrying in the workplace should be undertaken.
This is all part of a long and noble history of health and safety reform dating back to the Factories Act 1833. From then it has slowly moved to other work environments such as mines, quarries and agriculture and onto working conditions as a whole.
The point of reflecting a little of the history of all these provisions is to appreciate that they are not something we should take for granted particularly when you consider the terrible conditions and difficulties which were experienced before change became possible.
Nor is it something which is now complete as there remains a steady flow of legislation and guidance over the years which helps to guide and clarify how things may best be done.
A good example of that is the forthcoming Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 which subject to Parliamentary approval are due to come into force on 6 April 2015.
So here’s to forty more years of the Health and Safety Executive and many more years beyond that of provisions which help to secure the safety of employees and the public alike.
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