Before 1974 approximately 8 million employees had no legal
safety protection at work. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
provides the legal framework to promote, stimulate and encourage
high standards of health and safety in places of work. It protects
employees and the public from work activities.
Everyone has a duty to comply with the Act, including employers,
employees, trainees, self-employed, manufacturers, suppliers,
designers, importers of work equipment.
The Act places a general duty to 'ensure so far as is reasonably
practicable the health, safety and welfare at work of all their
Employers must comply with the Act. They must:
- provide and maintain safety equipment and safe systems of
- ensure materials used are properly stored, handled, used and
- provide information, training, instruction and
supervision - ensure staff are aware of instructions provided
by manufacturers and suppliers of equipment
- provide a safe place of employment
- provide a safe working environment
- provide a written safety policy/risk assessment
- look after the health and safety of others, for example the
- talk to safety representatives
An employer is forbidden to charge his or her employees for any
measures which he or she is required to provide in the interests of
health and safety (for example, personal protective equipment).
Employees have specific responsibilities too - they must:
- take care of their own health and safety and that of other
persons (employees may be liable)
- co-operate with their employers
- not interfere with anything provided in the interest of health
Enforcement of Health and Safety legislation
For your type of business the Local Authority Environmental
Health Officer will be your enforcement officer. For
manufacturing or large construction or industrial sites the Health
and Safety Executive carries out inspections.
The powers of an inspector include:
- rights of entry at reasonable times (without appointments)
- right to investigate and examine
- right to dismantle equipment and take substances or
- right to see documents and take copies
- right to assistance (from colleagues or Police)
- right to ask questions under caution
- right to seize articles or substances in cases of imminent
1. Legal Notices - Written document requires person to
do/stop doing something.
- Improvement: say what is wrong and how to put right within a
- Prohibition: prohibits use of equipment/unsafe practices
2. Prosecution - Both employers and employees face
- Maximum £5000 in Magistrates' Court
- Unlimited fine and jail in Crown Court.
Enforcement officers will give advice and
explain anything you are not sure about.