FACTORIES ACT 1961

Whilst the 1961 Act originally contained 185 sections and schedules, most have been repealed for instance by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

In addition, the requirements of many others relate to premises, processes and persons outside the engineering and related industries, and are not reproduced here. The duties specified under the Factories Act fall primarily on the occupier of premises used as a factory and not the owner (unless they are one and the same), a point which is important when renting or leasing premises for use as a factory.

MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS AND SUPERVISION (s10A,11): The Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) can serve a written notice requiring the occupier to permit medical examinations of employees where the nature other work may be injurious to their health; occupiers must then notify the employees and provide suitable accommodation for conducting examinations. HSE can introduce orders requiring the medical supervision of employees for any class of factory, process or use of a substance at work (orders relating to pottery and work in compressed air atmospheres exist; other requirements are detailed in specific sets of regulations relating to lead, asbestos etc).

TEAGLE OPENINGS (s24): Every teagle opening or similar doorway used for hoisting or lowering goods or materials, shall be securely fenced and provided with a secure hand-hold on each side. The fencing shall be properly maintained and shall be kept in position, (except when goods are being raised or lowered at the opening).

SAFE ENTRY INTO STEAM BOILERS(s.34): No person shall enter a boiler connected to others until all inlets are disconnected or locked shut. Blow-down valves feeding to a common blow off vessel or sump shall be fitted with a capture key arrangement.

GASHOLDERS - 140m3 CAPACITY UPWARDS(s.39): Gasholders shall be of sound construction, properly maintained and examined every two years, with a record of examinations kept. Where a gasholder is more than 20 years old, samples of the sheeting shall be cut for examination every 10 years. The occupier shall keep a record of the date of construction of each gasholder, each of which shall be conspicuously marked with a distinguishing number. Repair or demolition of a gasholder must be supervised by a competent person.

HUMID FACTORIES(s.68) (‘HSE’) shall be notified before an artificially humid atmosphere is produced in a factory (this requirement primarily concerns textiles and imposes requirements on the quality of water employed and the provision and use of hygrometers).

YOUNG PERSONS(s.119,119A): The local careers office of the Youth Employment Service shall be notified within seven days when a young person ie under the age of 18 (YP) starts employment in a factory. (This enables a check that they are medically fit for such employment). (‘HSE’) can require a certificate of fitness for YP to continue employment on processes or work that is potentially prejudicial to health.

LEASED/RENTED PREMISES(ss121,122): Where a factory is operating in rented accommodation or leased premises, all specified duties rest with the owner of the premises unless the matters are outside the control of the owner, ie:

● working conditions created by the occupiers (cleanliness, overcrowding etc) which are unrelated to the structure, fixtures or fittings of the premises

● duties of occupiers (ie tenants) to their own employees

● relating to machinery and plant belonging to the occupiers.

NB In practice, the duties of the owner can be transferred to a tenant by the terms of the lease, and tenants should beware of unknowingly accepting the upkeep of the premises.

OTHER APPLICATIONS(s.123 to 127): The provisions as specified in these sections of the Act, apply to electrical stations, institutions, docks, wharves, quays, warehouses (with mechanical power), building operations and works of engineering construction and other certain premises.

NOTICE OF OCCUPYING A FACTORY(s137): Anyone beginning to occupy premises for use as, or introducing mechanical power into, a factory shall give one months prior written notice containing the specified particulars, to (‘HSE’). (Less notice is required if (‘HSE’) gives written permission). Should there be a change of occupant in the same line of work then (‘HSE’) needs to be notified within one month of changeover.

Factories Act 1961 c34, The Stationery Office. Sections on guarding, transmission, unfenced machinery, cleaning of machinery and others were replaced by PUWER) on 1st January 1997.

Related information: see HSE’s ‘L’ and ‘HS (G)’ series including the following selection of key HSE references, all available from HSE Books.

L22 Safe Use of Work Equipment Regulations. ACoP and guidance (ISBN 0 7176 1626 6) 1998

L24 Workplace health, safety and welfare. Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 Approved code of practice and guidance (ISBN 0 7176 0413 6) 1996