IT and Society

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I.T and Society

Part One:

1.1 Health and Safety:

The basis of Health and Safety Law is the Health and Safety at work Act 1974, it is enforceable by law Environmental Health Officers and the Health and Safety Executive who checks to make sure those current regulations are being complied with as far as reasonably practicable.

The Act places a duty on the employer/organisation to take all practicable steps and precautions in order to provide a working environment that is safe and free from health hazards. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that employees follow recognised safety codes of practice and do not endanger themselves or other employees. Employees must also provide:

  • Safe equipment and procedures

  • Safe ways to enter and exit

  • Arrangements should be made for safe handling, storage and transport of articles and substances

  • Adequate information, instructions, training and supervision should be provided

  • Adequate investigation of accidents

Employees/organisations with large numbers of employees or students in this case, would be expected to be more diligent than those with few employees/individuals. To ensure that employees/organisations can be compensated if they are injured at work, employers/organisations must take out Liability Insurance.

Employees/individuals also have responsibilities. They must:

  • Co-operate with anyone carrying out duties under the Act (including the employer)

  • Make sure they know what the health and safety rules of the employer are and abide by them

  • Take care of their own health and safety in the institution and not endanger others that they work with

  • Use work items provided by the employer/organisation in accordance with training and instructions, including personal protective equipment

  • Never interfere with or misuse anything provided for health and safety or welfare

Health and Safety Regulations:

In 1993 the UK implemented six European Union health and safety regulations at work regulations under the Health and Safety at work Act. The areas covered by the regulations are as follows:

  • Management of health and safety at work

  • Display screen equipment

  • Workplace- health, safety and welfare

  • Manual Handling operations

  • Personal Protective Equipment

  • Provision and use of work equipment

Suitability of workstations:

In order to meet health and safety requirements they following should be done:

  • Screens that are adjustable for brightness and that can be tilted and turned should be provided

  • Desks should have space

  • Have stable, adjustable chairs

  • The environment should also be suitably spacious and properly ventilated

I carried out a Health and Safety inspection on the Matrix computer suite in Learning Resource Centre, Block 5 of the Whittingham Road Campus. I was inspecting whether the computer suite was in line with Health and Safety Regulation. The completed assessment checklist has been included at the end (see appendix).


Computer screens:

All screens provided brightness and contrast controls and were in full working order. The screens are able to be tilted for users comfort and ease of use although, I had difficulty adjusting them.

The screens are generally clean and do not have any marks obscuring vision. However some of the screens are showing the message ‘No Input’, I was advised that these were in the process of being fixed.


Most of the keyboards had tilt feet which were in workable order however; some tilt feet were missing which could cause users discomfort. The keyboards keys are also in good working order.

Mouse pads:

All computer mouses were in full working order however, there were no mouse pads which caused difficulty in use. This also means that dirt is being collected underneath and as a result, it will damage them and they will need replacing.


Desktop space is very limited with only a limited space at either side of each screen; there is only room for the screen, keyboard and mouse. This would cause difficulties, where paper work is concerned. Space underneath the tables is sufficient although tower units are situated there and tables are of reasonable height.


Some of the chairs are not in full working order, some levers are missing and the adjustable height and tilts are either missing or not working.


The room has large windows on one side, with blinds. The lighting is fairly good on one side of the room however quite poor on the other making it quite unpleasant to use a computer on that side however, ceiling lights are provided.

The room is at a reasonable temperature and air is sufficient although the room can become congested and feel quite close presumably because the computers and chairs are back to back and close together.


  • More effective use of space. Reorganisation of the computers on the one side that is cramped.

  • Provision of desk space to allow paperwork and to make it more comfortable for the users

  • Provide mouse mats for ease of use

  • Refurbish existing keyboards by replacing tilt feet

  • Make sure all computers are in full working order

  • Replace all chairs making sure all adjustable devices are working

Course resources from Halesowen College were used to research into health and safety.

2.1 Data Protection and Security:

Initially the data protection act was created in 1984 as a result of public concern about personal privacy, due to the growth of computer users to store information on individuals. The Act was limited to legislation for information held in electronic form and did not cover data held and processed manually in paper based systems.

In 1998 the Act was extended by introducing additional conditions for sensitive data e.g. health and ethnic origin. The data protection registrar was renamed to data protection commissioner and imbued with greater powers of enforcement.

How the Act applies to Data Users:

Various organisations and companies are data users i.e. the police and the Inland Revenue. They must be registered with the Information Commissioners Office and re-register every three years. A fee is paid to the commissioners Office and the following information is provided:

  • The user names details and address
  • A nominated representative, if there is one
  • Description of the personal data wanting to be processed and the categories of which they relate
  • Explanation of how the data will be collected and the sources from which it will be obtained

  • A description of the purpose, of which the data is or will be used

  • A description of any recipients to whom the data user intends to disclose the information

  • The names or a description of any countries outside the European Economic Area to which the data user directly or indirectly transfers the data to.

The Information Commissioners Office must also be kept informed of any changes to the data user’s circumstances, use, disclosure or transfer of the data. In addition, data users have an obligation to ensure that the information they hold is accurate and up-to-date and they can not hold the information longer than necessary for the registered purpose of use.

Exemptions exist for;

  • Calculating wages or pensions

  • Keeping accounts records of purchases of sales

  • Information held by sports or recreational clubs, providing they are not limited companies

  • Used for distributing articles or information

  • Individual research where data is used for preparing text documents only

  • Data used for personal, family, household or recreational usage

How the Act applies to Data Subjects:

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Everyone in the UK is a data subject, in a variety of ways, see below:

To ensure that we are comfortable with the level of information held by various organisations the Data Protection Act provides us with rights to data subjects.

Individual’s entitlements-

  1. To be told when any of their information is being used on behalf or on behalf of a data user

     If data is being used, a description is to be given consisting of:

  • The personal data held

  • The purpose for which the data is being held

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