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Scotland Act 1998

Section H2: Health and Safety
Purpose and Effect

This Section reserves health and safety at work. It was largely replaced by article 6 of the Scotland Act 1998 (Modifications of Schedules 4 and 5) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/1749).


This Section is part of Head H which reserves a number of matters relating to employment.

Details of Provisions

The reserved matters are:


the subject-matter of Part I of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. That Part makes provision for the general purposes of securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work, protecting persons other than persons at work against risks to health or safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work, and controlling the keeping and use of explosive or highly flammable or otherwise dangerous substances, and generally preventing the lawful acquisition, possession and use of such substances; and


the Health and Safety Commission (HSC), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS).  By virtue of paragraph 3 of Part III of Schedule 5, this has the effect of reserving the constitutions of these bodies, the conferral or removal of their functions, and the conferral or removal of any functions specifically exercisable in relation to them.  HSC and HSE are primarily concerned with matters which are reserved as part of the subject-matter of Part I of the 1974 Act.  However, they have certain functions which are exercisable in relation to matters which are not otherwise reserved.  For example, the Commission has powers to direct investigations into fires.  The reservation of the Commission by name has the effect of preventing the Scottish Parliament from modifying that function, but not from legislating about general fire safety.  EMAS is established by Part II of the 1974 Act.  It has functions of advising Ministers, the HSC, employers and employees on health in relation to employment.  The effect of its reservation by name is that the Scottish Parliament is not able to legislate about EMAS’s functions, but may, for example, legislate about promoting health in the work place.


The interpretation provisions provide that:


the expressions “work” and “at work” in Part I of the 1974 Act are to be taken to have the meanings they have on the principal appointed day (1 July 1999). This is consistent with paragraph 5(1) of Part III of Schedule 5 which provides that references to the subject matter of an enactment are to be read as references to the subject matter of that enactment as it has effect on the principal appointed day. However the subject-matter of Part I of the 1974 Act is not fixed because it includes a power for the Secretary of State to extend the definition of “work” for the purposes of health and safety regulations. This interpretation provision ensures that this power cannot be used to extend the scope of the reservation beyond that which it had on the principal appointed day; and


the subject matter of Part I of the 1974 Act includes certain specified aspects of fire safety but not any other aspects of fire safety.  Those specified aspects are those which are, in practice, regulated under health and safety legislation.

Agency arrangements

Article 6(2) of S.I. 1999/1749 provides for certain references in section 13 of the 1974 Act to Ministers to include a reference to the Scottish Ministers.  This allows the HSC and the Scottish Ministers to make arrangements for the HSC to perform functions on behalf of the Scottish Ministers (provided that the Secretary of State considers that they can appropriately be performed by the HSC). In that section, “functions” does not include the making of regulations or legislative instruments.

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