29th Oct, 2019 Read time 2 minutes

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Explained

The health and safety at work act 1974 (HASAWA) is a piece of legislation introduced to apply some broad duties and best practices for employers in regards to the health and safety of their workforce. This includes a duty of care for employees, casual workers, self-employed workers, clients, visitors, and the general public.

All aspects of the act are subject to compliance by employers ‘as far as is reasonably practicable’. This allows employers the chance to defend themselves if they can show the cost of taking certain health and safety measures are not worth the potential process benefit.

The health and safety executive was set up as a governing body to help companies comply with the health and safety at work act.

What must be provided by an employer?

The HSAWA outlines the responsibilities that an employer has to their workers. They include the following:

  • A safe system/way of performing work
  • A safe place to perform the work in
  • Safe equipment and machinery to perform the work
  • They must ensure work colleagues are competent in their roles
  • They must carry out the relevant risk assessments
  • Employers should be transparent and inform workers of any work-related risks
  • They should appoint a ‘competent person’ to oversee the health and safety
  • Employers must consult with workplace safety representatives and set up a workplace safety committee if a union is recognised
  • Employers should provide adequate facilities for staff welfare


What are safety regulations?

Safety regulations are the highest form of official guidance that employers must follow. They are often proposed by the Health and Safety Executive. These regulations can be all-encompassing or in some cases apply to certain industries and circumstances.


What are the approved codes of best practice?

The approved codes of best practice are designed to offer guidance to those trying to implement a robust health and safety policy. Whilst failure to follow an approved code of best practice (ACOP) is not in itself illegal, you will need to show that your workplaces have implemented equally effective methods to comply with the law.


How do I comply with the Health and Safety at work act?

To comply with the HSAWA you should follow the requirements outlined previously. Firstly having a written down health and safety policy will help you establish how to have a safe workplace. Carrying out regular risk assessments will also help you manage hazards in your workplace.


HSE Network
Article by: HSE Network

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