The EU Six Pack Health & Safety Regulations – CWU Fact Sheet

The EU Six Pack Health & Safety Regulations – CWU Fact Sheet 

To: All Branches

Dear Colleagues,

In January 1992, six regulations on Health and Safety at Work were introduced. The requirements of these Regulations spelled out in detail what a responsible employer needs to do to comply with the requirements of EU Law and the UK’s 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act, the ‘umbrella Act’ under which the Regulations were introduced. 

The ‘six-pack’ is the name given to this group of most widely quoted sets of health and safety regulations. They came into effect in Britain after six European directives, collectively known as the ‘six-pack’, were issued by the European Commission. 

The main set of regulations is the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, also known as the ‘Management Regs’. They place a legal duty on employers to carry out a risk assessment as a first step in ensuring a safe workplace, and lie at the heart of the modern approach to health and safety at work in the UK.

Other ‘six-pack’ regulations cover, in summary, heating, lighting and ventilation at work, the safe use of computer screens and keyboards, handling heavy or awkward loads, rest breaks, and personal protective equipment. 

The importance of the ‘six pack’ regulations is shown by the fact that the Health and Safety Executive issue around 4,000 enforcement notices every year under the six regulations, and achieve over 200 convictions a year, a figure that sees fines increasing every year under the new sentencing council guidelines. 

The EU Six Pack of Regulations is explained in summary in the attached CWU Fact Sheet for Health and Safety Reps information and easy reference.

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations

Manual Handling Operations Regulations

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations

Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations

These important regulations have played an important role in the health and safety regime of the UK and as a result, the TUC, all UK Union and the Health and Safety Professional bodies are campaigning for their retention after ‘Brexit’.

The Regulations were introduced by the Secretary of State under the ‘Umbrella Act’ and central piece of UK Health and Safety Legislation, the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974, summarised below:-

The Health and Safety at Work Act

Health and safety law is very wide ranging. Most of it is not made through Acts of Parliament but by regulations.

The right to make regulations on health and safety was given to the Secretary of State under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. 

This Act, which came into force in 1975, was designed to ensure that all workers in all occupations were covered by health and safety legislation. Rather than have lots of different laws covering different groups, it provided a framework within which health and safety could be regulated by creating one simple system of law dealing with all aspects of health and safety of people at work.

The Act is written in very general terms and the duties on employers are qualified with the words ‘as far as is reasonably practicable‘. This means that employers have often argued that the costs of a particular safety measure are not justified by the reduction in risk which the measure would produce. The following are the main sections of the Act.

The following are the main sections of the Act:

Section 1

This states the general purpose of Part 1 of the Act, which is aimed at:

Maintaining or improving standards of health, safety and welfare of people at work.

Protecting other people against risks to health and safety arising out of work activities.

Controlling the storage and use of dangerous substances.

Controlling certain emissions into the air from certain premises.

Section 2

This puts a general duty on employers to:

Ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of their employees.

Consult them concerning arrangements for joint action on health and safety matters, and in certain circumstances, at the request of duly appointed or elected trade union safety reps, to establish safety committees.

Prepare and publicise a written statement of their safety policy and arrangements.

Sub-section (4) of this section of the Act makes provision by regulations for the appointment of workers’ safety reps by recognised trade unions.

Section 3

This places a general duty on employers and the self-employed to ensure that their activities do not endanger anybody, and, in certain circumstances, to provide information to the public about any potential hazards to health and safety.

Section 4

This places a duty on anybody responsible for places of work to ensure that premises themselves, as well as plant and machinery in them, do not endanger people using them.
Section 5

Controllers of premises as a prescribed class must use the best practicable means to prevent emissions into the atmosphere of noxious or offensive substances and to render harmless and inoffensive such substances as may be emitted.
Section 6

This places duties on anyone who designs, manufacturers, imports or supplies an article or substance for use at work to ensure, so far as it is under their control, that the article or substance is safe when used in accordance with information supplied by them. The duty extends to the provision of necessary information and the carrying out of necessary testing, inspection and research. Those who install plant also have a duty to ensure that it is safely installed.

Section 7

This places duties on employees to take reasonable care to ensure that they do not endanger themselves or anyone else who may be affected by their work activities; and to co-operate with employers and others in meeting statutory requirements.

Section 8

This places a duty on everyone not to misuse anything provided in the interests of health or safety at work under a statutory requirement.

Section 9

This provides that no employer may charge their employees for anything done or equipment provided for health or safety purposes under a statutory requirement.

Section 15

This section allows the Secretary of State to make regulations on health and safety under the Act.

Section 28 (8)

This requires Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors to supply certain information on health, safety and welfare matters affecting safety to workers or their representatives.

To see what the Act means in practice, it is necessary to look at the regulations made under the Act (E.g. The Six-Pack), or the official approved Codes of Practice (ACoPs) and guidance.

Attachment:- The EU Six Pack Health & Safety Regulations – CWU Fact Sheet.

Yours sincerely


Dave Joyce

National Health, Safety & Environment Officer



Email Attachments – Click to download

LTB 364/17 The EU Six Pack Health & Safety Regulations – CWU Fact Sheet

The EU Six Pack


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