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Printed Version Of Revised Workplace Regulations ACOP Now Available

As previously reported by Unionsafety, the HSE has revised the ACOP associated with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (L24)' The revised document in electronic form only has been available from the E-Library since November.

Pic: Dave JoyceNow that the HSE has finally published the document in hard copy format; Dave Joyce, CWU’s National Health, Safety & Environment Officer has written to all branches via LTB857/13 to provide details of the revised and updated 'Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) & Guidance to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (L24)'

He also gives some background on the revision by the HSE. The LTB is reproduced below in full:

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a revised and updated Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) supporting the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The Regulations remain unaltered and the 'Duty holders' Legal responsibilities to protect workers' health and safety are not altered by any changes to the ACOP.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which set requirements to ensure workplaces do not adversely affect the health and safety of employees, apply to most workplaces except for those involving work on:

  • Construction sites,
  • Ships
  • Underground in a mine.

According to HSE the new, revised L24 document, which contains both the ACoP and guidance material has not only been updated but has been designed to help and make it easier for employers, building owners, landlords and managing agents to understand and meet their legal, regulatory obligations and requirements on key issues under the Workplace Regs such as temperature, cleanliness, workstations and seating, toilets and washing facilities but also reduce the risks of over compliance. The HSE added that the they are working hard to ensure that employers have access to good quality advice which makes clear what they need to do to protect workers.

The L24 revisions from the previous edition, which was published in 1992 alongside the regulations :

  • Simpler language to clarify what duty holders must do to comply with the Workplace Regs
  • Changes to take account of provisions in the Miscellaneous Amendment Regs 2002
  • New references to the most up-to-date and relevant standards for advice
  • The removal of obsolete duties and requirements that have been superseded by newer legislation, such as the Work at Height Regulations and Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.

Pic: cover of Wokrplace Regs ACOP - click to download from E-libraryThe Workplace (H,S&W) Regs ACOP was one of several identified for review and revision, consolidation or withdrawal in line with a recommendation by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt in his government sponsored and initiated 2011 report "Reclaiming health and safety for all". 

The HSE carried out a 12 week consultation on the proposed new L24 ACoP and Guidance document but found little support for wholesale changes – instead a large majority of respondents said the publication only needed some updating, simplifying and modernising.

A maximum workplace temperature – which Trade Unions including CWU and a number of Labour MPs have pushed for – has not been included in the new document, but HSE’s board has requested that new guidance on workplace temperature be developed. The minimum temperature remains enshrined in the document’s semi-legal ACoP material.

Clearly, the strong response from Trade Unions and Safety Reps, campaigned against all attempt to eliminate, weaken or water down Regulations, ACopS and Legal Guidance had an impact on the outcome of this revision. The positive is that the HSE hasn't removed the ACoP or limited the scope of protections provided to workers, as has been the case with some previous revisions of HSE ACoPs.

It is however disappointing, although perhaps not surprising with the current government in power, that the HSE didn't seek to improve worker protections with the introduction of more firmer, detailed guidance on Maximum Temperature in workplaces which had been strongly recommended by the Unions. The World Health Organisation (WHO) position is that, in temperate climates, the optimum temperature for indoor workplaces is between 18C and 24C which CWU and other Unions endorse as does the TUC in its 2009 Report "The case for a legally enforceable maximum temperature".

On the other hand a positive is that the HSE have added new additional wording on Legionella which replicates the ACoP on Legionnaires Disease. This provides a positive example of how some replication can provide clarity and it would be helpful if the HSE adopted this approach of including cross-references to other Regulations elsewhere in the ACoP and in the review of ACoPS generally.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, the ACoP and guidance are extremely important reference documents to Safety Reps when carrying out their duties, particularly when undertaking Workplace Health and Safety Inspections.

A copy of this hard copy revised ACOP L24 can be downloaded from the E-Library Database using search category ‘Health, & Safety Legislation’

Both versions remain in the E-Library because the electronic only version contains a green highlighted contents page, making it easier to identify the subject matter which links direct to the relevant page.

Source: CWU / Unionsafety

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