Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The 1974 HASAWA is the most important piece of H&S legislation in the UK. The reasons for this are as follows –

  • It brought all employers and employees in the UK under a single piece of legislation
  • It is an Enabling Act, which allows the government to bring in additional H&S regulations that are legally binding without the need to pass new Acts of Parliament

The key parts of the Act are –

  1. That the employer must, so far is as reasonably practicable ensure the health, safety and welfare of his employees, subcontractors and users of his premises whilst at work as well as others who may be affected by his activities (for example - users of any products that he may manufacture, neighbours, those affected by emissions from the premises etc.)
  2. That the employee must take, so far as is reasonably practicable such measures as are necessary to ensure his own safety and all other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.

Duties of the Employer

  1. It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.
  2. Without prejudice to the generality of an employer’s duty under the preceding subsection, the matters to which that duty extends include in particular—
  3. (a) the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;

    (b) arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances;

    (c) the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees;

    (d) so far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks;

    (e) the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.

  4. Except in such cases as may be prescribed, it shall be the duty of every employer to prepare and as often as may be appropriate revise a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees and the organisation and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all of his employees.
  5. Regulations made by the Secretary of State may provide for the appointment in prescribed cases by recognised trade unions (within the meaning of the regulations) of safety representatives from amongst the employees, and those representatives shall represent the employees in consultations with the employers under subsection (6) below and shall have such other functions as may be prescribed.
  6. (Item 5. Removed)
  7. It shall be the duty of every employer to consult any such representatives with a view to the making and maintenance of arrangements which will enable him and his employees to co-operate effectively in promoting and developing measures to ensure the health and safety at work of the employees, and in checking the effectiveness of such measures.
  8. In such cases as may be prescribed it shall be the duty of every employer, if requested to do so by the safety representatives mentioned above to establish in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State, a safety committee having the function of keeping under review the measures taken to ensure the health and safety at work of his employees and such other functions as may be prescribed

Duties of the Employee

It shall be the duty of every employee while at work—

  1. To take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work; and
  2. As regards any duty or requirement imposed on his employer or any other person by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions, to co-operate with him so far as is necessary to enable that duty or requirement to be performed or complied with.