Provisions of the SHaW Act
AS?ITS NAME SUGGESTS, the Safety And Health At Work Act (SHaW) 2005 is concerned not only about safety in the workplace but also about health. The act also embraces provisions relating to the welfare facilities for employees.
The provisions relating to health and welfare are to be found in Parts IV and V, respectively, of the act. These provisions concern matters such as the cleanliness of the workplace, proper lighting, the control of noise and vibration and the prevention of overcrowding. The welfare provisions cover such matters as the supply of adequate quantities of drinking water, washing facilities, lunch rooms, sanitary conveniences and first aid appliances.
The stipulations with respect to health and welfare are detailed in Sections 49 to 66 of the act. Cleanliness
Section 49 of the act specifically speaks to the issue of cleanliness. Subsection 1 and 2 of Section 49 read as follows:
49.(1) “Every workplace shall be kept in a clean state and free from effluvia arising from any drain, sanitary convenience and from nuisance.
(2) Without limiting or affecting the application of Subsection (1)
(a) workrooms shall be cleaned as often as the nature of the work carried on requires;
(b) accumulations of dirt and refuse shall, by a suitable method, be removed from the floors and benches of workrooms, and from the staircases and passages not less than once each day;
(c) effective means shall be provided, maintained and used to prevent the breeding of insects, rats, mice or other vermin;
(d) the floor or every workroom shall be kept in a clean state by washing or by other suitable or effective means;
(e) sweeping and cleaning shall be done during intervals between work and in a manner to prevent the raising of dust, unless otherwise directed by the Chief Labour Officer; and
(f) where for practical purposes, cleaning cannot be done outside working hours special precautions shall be taken to avoid contamination of the air with dust or any other noxious substances.”
Section 49(3) is expressly provided to be applicable to workplaces where ten or more persons are employed. That section deals with the cleaning and painting of all inside walls, partitions, ceilings, tops of rooms and all walls, sides, tops of passages and staircases. The following requirements are imposed by Section 49(3).
“(a) where they have a smooth impervious surface, they shall at least once in every period of 12 months be washed with suitable detergent or cleaned by any other method that the Chief Labour Officer approves;
(b) where they are kept painted in a prescribed manner or are varnished, they shall be repainted in like manner or revarnished at such intervals not exceeding 3 years, as may be prescribed and shall, at least once in every period of 12 months, be washed with suitable detergent cleaned by any other method that the Chief Labour Officer approves; and
(c) in any case other than contained in paragraphs (a) and (b), they shall be kept painted and shall be repainted at least once in a period of 12 months.”
In respect of drinking water, section 57 of the act stipulates:
“(1)There shall be provided and maintained at suitable points accessible to all persons employed in a workplace an adequate supply of wholesome, cool drinking water supplied from a public main or from some other source approved in writing by the Chief Labour Officer.
(2) A supply of drinking of water that is not supplied flowing from a public main shall be contained in suitable vessels, and shall be renewed at least daily, and all practicable steps shall be taken to preserve the water and vessels from contamination; and a drinking water supply, whether laid on or not shall, in such cases as the Chief Labour Officer directs, be clearly marked “Drinking Water”.
(3) All drinking water facilities shall be located at a suitable distance away from the nearest convenience or washing facility, or placed at such distance away as the Chief Labour Officer directs.” Lunchrooms
Lunchroom facilities must be provided for workplaces where ten or more people are employed subject to the Chief Labour Officer’s authority to permit the operation of a workplace with such “modifications to the requirements of this section” as he deems proper.
I have only discussed a few sections of the act, but it must be obvious that significant legal impositions have been made as a result of the passage of the Safety And Health At Work Act 2005.
Employers, in particular, must become familiar with its provisions.
Along with the Employment Rights Act, when it becomes law, the new health and safety legislation places a heavy responsibility on the Chief Labour Officer. It is likely that if the functions are to be adequately carried out, this department will need to be strengthened.
• Cecil McCarthy is a Queen’s Counsel. Send your letters to: Everyday Law, Nation House, Fontabelle, St Michael. Send your email to [email protected]