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Technical Q&A

IIRSM members have free and unlimited access to three helplines as part of their membership; a technical helpline, a HR helpline and a legal helpline.   These helplines provide quick responses by phone or email to everyday queries, such as the application of health and safety legislation, staff issues and professional and person legal issues.  Every month we publish a selection of questions and answers from the technical helpline in our Member magazine, Insight.  Below are some recent examples which you may find interesting and informative.

Q. I am looking to extend an exemption request under REACH for use of PXT (lead crystal) in our product, which is unique. How do I set up an exemption request?


According to the HSE’s REACH exemption certificates section, the exemption application process includes:

Application contents  

full name and job title of applicant  

full company address including registration number (if applicable) 

details of sector/nature of business.    

Details of exemption requests

nature of request  

type of exemption (ie class exemption/single exemption) 

reasons why exemption is required 

details of asbestos-containing article(s) 

purpose of exemption (ie loan out/exhibit/sale, etc) 

date for exemption to commence/end (if short term).   

Justification and evidence  

details and justification of need for exemption (to include socioeconomic risk assessment) demonstration in writing of how a high level of protection of human health will be ensured if the application were successful, ie risk assessment/method statement/competent personnel involved.    

Submit application  

submit application to the HSE by email

the HSE will send acknowledgement of receipt of application  

additional information may be requested by HSE 

the HSE will aim to make a decision within six weeks of receipt of all information required.

See for advice on the application of REACH obligations. You can also contact the UK REACH Competent Authority’s national helpdesk by emailing:  

Q. Please advise which regulations relate to the keeping of a company accident book. I’m trying to find out whether there should be one per department or a single, central document?


The relevant legislation regarding the keeping of an accident book is regulation 25 of the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1979, which is concerned with the obligations of employees and this states:

“(3) Every owner or occupier (being an employer) of any mine or quarry or of any premises to which any of the provisions of the Factories Act 1961 applies and every employer by whom 10 or more persons are normally employed at the same time on or about the same premises in connection with a trade or business carried on by the employer shall, subject to the following provisions of this paragraph –

(a) keep readily accessible a book or books in a form approved by the Secretary of State in which the appropriate particulars (as defined in regulation 24) of any accident causing personal injury to a person employed by the employer may be entered by that person or by some other person acting on his behalf; and

(b) preserve every such book, when it is filled, for the period of three years beginning with the date of the last entry therein.”

This information can be found at

With regards to your second question, if an organisation can ensure that the single central accident book they keep meets the above requirement of being ‘readily accessible’ to all their employees, then this should be sufficient.

Q. Where an Association has a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Committee followed by Chief Executive and Board, who has responsibility for the Health and Safety Policy and signing of Statement of Intent?


As there is no legal requirement for a health and safety policy to be signed, there is nothing specific within health and safety legislation or guidance regarding this matter. However, the following information provided by the HSE may be useful.

Does the health and safety policy have to be signed and if so by who?

It is ‘highly recommended’ that it is signed, as signing it is like an act of good faith to say that the company will adhere to what is stated. Someone as high up in the company as possible, for example a director, should be the person to sign it.

How many people can sign the policy?    

In the leaflet ‘Leading health and safety at work’ it is recommended that a health and safety director is appointed who could sign the policy; however, there is nothing preventing several people signing the policy, for example three signatures. Therefore, it could be signed by any or all of the people within the organisation that you mentioned in your enquiry.  

The HSE publication referred to above can be freely downloaded from

Q. One of our employees has presented a doctor’s note stating he is unable to wear safety footwear due to an ingrowing toenail. I believe that we need to offer alternative footwear and if he still can’t wear them then he should be removed from that task.


If the employee was unable to wear any suitable safety footwear, then he would need to be removed from the task. There is no exemption from wearing PPE if the risk assessment indicates that is what is required. 

Q. We have a food store, a dry store and general store. Are we required to provide first aid boxes in each store?


It is unclear which country you are based in. However, within the UK the relevant legislation is the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. These require you to provide adequate and appropriate first-aid equipment facilities and people so your employees can be given immediate help if they are injured or taken ill at work.    

What is ‘adequate and appropriate’ will depend on the circumstances in your workplace and you should assess what your first aid needs are.    

The minimum first aid provision on any work site is:  

  • a suitably stocked first aid kit  
  • an appointed person to take charge of first aid arrangements  
  • information for employees about first aid arrangements.   

The following information has been taken from the HSE’s guidance document to the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981.

“The aim of first aid is to reduce the effects of injury or illness suffered at work whether caused by the work itself or not. First aid provision must be adequate and appropriate in the circumstances.”

This means that sufficient first-aid equipment, facilities and personnel should be available:  

to give immediate assistance to casualties with both common injuries or illness and those likely to arise from specific hazards at work

to summon an ambulance or other professional help.   

How much first aid provision an employer must make depends on the circumstances of each workplace. There is no fixed level, but each employer needs to assess what equipment, facilities and personnel are appropriate.

L74 First aid at work: the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981: Approved Code of Practice and Guidance is available at

Regarding health and safety in other countries, some general information about regulatory systems and contact details to the relevant national bodies can be found within the country profiles section at

Q. Can you confirm what duties, if any, a relative arranging to have some building works done on their house might have under health and safety?


As a domestic client they would not be exempt from the duties of clients under CDM; but these duties will be transferred from them to the contractor or principal contractor in charge of the works.