HSWA 1974

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, also referred to as HSWA is the main piece of legislation covering work place health and safety in the UK.

The legislation relating to health and safety at work is very extensive.  One of the most important statutes is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA).  All work places are covered by this legislation which says that an employer must do everything “reasonably practicable” to provide a safe and healthy workplace with adequate welfare facilities.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the government body which decides upon and implements health and safety policy.  A complete list of relevant legislation can be found on the HSE website as well as a range of useful guidance material.

The HSWA is mainly aimed at people and their work activities rather than being aimed at premises and processes.  Anybody at work, other than in private domestic service, is subject to this Act whether they are employers, employees or self-employed.

The legislation includes both the protection of people at work and the prevention of risks to the health and safety of the general public, which may arise from work activities.

The HSWA imposes various duties upon both employers and employees.

The duty of care of an employer is to:

  • Provide and maintain safe plant and systems of work.
  • Ensure the safety of Employees in connection with the use, storage and transport of articles.
  • Provide the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision.
  • Ensure the safe maintenance of the place of work.
  • Provide and maintain a safe working environment.

The duty of care for an employee is to:

  • Look out for the health and safety of themselves and others.
  • Cooperate with any requirement set by the Employer in order for the Employer to perform and comply with any required duty.
  • Not intentionally or recklessly interfere or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare.

The governing body of the Act is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The main function of the HSE is to:

  • Assist and encourage anyone connected with matters relevant to the operation of the HSWA 1974.
  • Make arrangements for and encouraging research publication, training and information in connection with its work.
  • Make arrangements to ensure government departments, employers, employees and anyone else involved or connected are provided with an information and help service.
  • Propose regulations.
One Response to “HSWA 1974”
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