The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 also referred to as HASAW or HSW, is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in the United Kingdom. The Health and Safety at Work Act sets out general requirements for businesses to ensure the health, safety and welfare of those who may be affected by the activities of the business e.g. visitors, employees and contractors.
Statutory instruments (or Regulations) are the secondary types of legislation made under specific Acts of Parliament. These cover a wide range of subjects, from control of asbestos and working at height.
There are two bodies in the UK, known as, "enforcing authorities" who enforce the above legislation in workplaces. It is a criminal offence to breach duties imposed by the above legislation.
The "enforcing authority" for your business depends on the main work activities undertaken.
Our Health and Safety Enforcement Team enforce standards in the workplace by:
- Inspecting business on a routine basis to assess compliance with health and safety legislation.
- Investigating accidents to determine the cause(s) to aim to prevent recurrences
- Investigate and resolve complaints relating to workplace conditions
- Promote health and safety awareness to employers and employees by providing information, advice and participating in national campaigns.
- Providing advice to businesses on site, over the telephone and/or sending out explanatory leaflets.
- Providing advice to employees who are experiencing health and safety problems at work who may wish to discuss their concerns with someone outside their workplace. Officers can provide advice and/or deal with the query as a complaint.
Your duties as an employer
Every employer has a general duty 'to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all employees'. This includes:
- The provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are safe and without risk to health
- Arrangements for ensuring, health and safety in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances
- The provision of information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, the health and safety at work of employees
- The provision and maintenance of the workplace in a safe condition ensuring safe access and egress at all times
- The provision and maintenance of welfare facilities and a comfortable working environment
Your duties as an employee
Every employee has the following duties whilst at work:
- To take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of any other person who may be affected by his acts or omissions
- To co-operate with all colleagues to ensure that legal duties imposed on his/her employer are complied with
For further information about regulations in the workplace contact:
Health and Safety Executive
Tel: 02920 263000