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The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 imposes a general obligation on employers to act reasonably with regard to the health and safety of their employees. Failure to act reasonably can result in criminal prosecution. Reasonableness in the area of health and safety includes: maintaining plant and equipment and establishing a safe system of working; ensuring safe arrangements for the storage, transport, and use of hazardous substances (see COSHH); providing information and training in the use of dangerous equipment and hazardous substances; ensuring entrances and exits to the workplace are properly maintained; and providing adequate facilities to ensure employee welfare. A similar duty of reasonableness applies to the employees of subcontractors and self-employed workers working at the employer's premises. Reasonableness is required under the criminal law; the threat of damages for negligence provides a similar pressure on employers under the civil law.

Subjects: Human Resource Management.

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