Law and Legislation

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Laws regarding worker fatigue are normally covered within general health and safety legislation. The following list outlines examples which impose a duty of care on employers to minimise its effect in the workplace:

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)

Under this Act, employers have a legal duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees and those that may be affected by their work. Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Act place general duties on employers to reduce health and safety risks, including risks posed by fatigue, so far as reasonably practicable.

Similarly, under this legislation, employees are expected to cooperate with their employer by ensuring they are rested enough to perform their work safely and reporting any concerns about fatigue to their employer.

The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations (1996)

These regulations allow employees who are not represented by a trade union to consult with their employers on health and safety issues. Consultation involves employers providing employees with information and listening to their opinions before making a decision.

The Working Time Regulations (1998)

These regulations establish the minimum legal requirements on how to organise working time. Employers are required to satisfy the provisions and consider fatigue as a risk factor in their business like any other health and safety risk.

Whether the business involves major hazards or not, employers are required to set up appropriate systems to control potential causes of fatigue, including working hours, shift patterns, overtime, annual leave and rest periods.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999)

These regulations are the main instrument for risk assessments and risk management to control health and safety hazards, including fatigue. Under these regulations, employers are required to make an assessment of the risks posed by fatigue and introduce effective measures to remove or control such risks, where possible.