Since 1975 the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (H.S.W.A.) has required employers, the self-employed and certain people who have control over workplaces to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of anyone who may be affected by their work activities. So if glazing constitutes a risk, reasonably practicable measures need to be taken to deal with it.
The H.S.W.A. does not specifically mention glazing, but on 1 January 1993 the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 came into force to implement the EC Workplace Directive. Regulation 14 includes requirements for glazing which make explicit those that are implicit in the H.S.W.A. The regulations apply to a wide range of workplaces including factories, offices, shops, schools, hospitals, hotels and places of entertainment. They do not apply to domestic premises used for work, or to construction sites. They have applied to new workplaces from 1 January 1993 and they will apply to all workplaces from 1 January 1996.
The duty to comply with the regulations will usually fall to the employer. However, people other than employers may be duty holders under the regulations if they have control of a workplace to any extent; such as owners and landlords of buildings used as workplaces.
Depending upon the tenancy agreement, particularly of a multi-occupied building, the owner, as opposed to individual employers, may be the duty holder responsible for complying with the requirements.
What does Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 Regulation 14 require?
The Regulation requires that every window or other transparent or translucent surface in a wall, partition, door or gate should, where necessary for reasons of health or safety, be of a safety material or filmed with a safety window film or be protected against breakage of the transparent or translucent material; and be appropriately marked or incorporate features to make it apparent.
What does the duty holder need to do?
The regulation only expects action "where necessary for reasons of health or safety". So you need to assess every window or other transparent or translucent surface in a wall, partition, or door or gate to establish whether there is a risk of anyone being hurt if people or objects come into contact with it, or if it breaks.
If there is a risk, an action is required.
If there is a risk then action will be necessary to comply with the regulation to:
- Prevent people or objects coming into contact with the glazing, or
- upgrade it so that if it breaks, it breaks safely, and
- mark large expanses of glazing in some way so that people know it is there