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What is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974?

What is the HASAWA?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA, HSW Act, the 1974 Act or HASAWA) is the key legislation that covers Health & Safety in Great Britain. For employers, it is important to note that this act is enforced by the HSE in partnership with local authorities. Several other acts that are relevant to the workplace also form part of wider health and safety legislation.

Though the HAWASA act is extensive, the opening point of the act states:

"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."

HASAWA Section 2

By this, the Act states that the employer is responsible for a wide range of duties to their employees and any other visitors to the premises. This can include temporary workers, casual workers, visitors & self-employed people. Let’s take a deeper look at how the HASAWA is enforced in the workplace.

The importance of the HASAWA

So, why is the HASAWA so important? It may seem fairly obvious, but employers must always take caution and adopt the core principles. The key part of this legislation is the wording in the first part of the act - ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. But what does this mean? 

Well, because of its ambiguous wording, it makes it slightly difficult to define exactly what should be done to ensure the Health & Safety of people on work premises. Although the phrasing of this means it is open to interpretation, employers must not avoid their responsibilities at the expense of the safety of their employees. 

It is important to have policies and procedures in place to make sure that any accidents are correctly documented, and the person or people it affects are given the right care, compensation and time off work where required.

The HASAWA states that all workplaces must provide:

  • Adequate welfare provisions for employees at work
  • Adequate training to ensure the Health & Safety procedures are understood and carried out by employees
  • Suitable provision of relevant information, supervision and instruction
  • A safe working environment where operations are conducted safely and the environment is properly maintained
  • Safe entrances and exits to the workplace
  • Safe usage of including handling & storage of hazardous materials
  • A requirement for employers to keep an up to date health and safety policy, which is designed in conjunction with the Act.

It also provides a structure for the government to issue health and safety guidance for employers, regulations and Approved Codes of Practice (ACoP). These can provide more detailed explanations of what is expected from employers in different subject areas like DSE and work with hazardous materials. At iHasco, we have developed specialist COSHH training courses that highlight the dangers of working with substances.

Why not download our free Health & Safety checklist - it’s a great tool for employers or anyone in charge of Health & Safety!

Risk Assessments

Risk assessments are an integral part of health and safety measures for any employer. They help to highlight any hazards that could impact employees and cause potential harm or injury.

A standard workplace risk assessment should evaluate the following five things:  

  1. who might be harmed and how
  2. what you're already doing to control the risks
  3. what further action you need to take to control the risks
  4. who need to carry out the action
  5. when the action is needed by

Every workplace should have a valid risk assessment carried out on an annual basis to maintain safety standards and keep all people within the premises free from any risks.

Implementing Health & Safety legislation in the workplace

As there are multiple pieces of legislation to adhere to, it can be difficult to understand each different one. Knowing what each legislation policy is and does is always a good starting point. Below, we’ve listed and summarised what each one means for a broader understanding of when and why they should be implemented.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

This legislation covers the need to make risk assessments in the workplace to reduce risks. A ‘responsible person’ must also be nominated to oversee employee safety, providing essential health and safety training and a compliant health and safety policy.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

This covers the building itself, so things like adequate lighting, heating, ventilation and workspaces, passways and facilities.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992

The use of Display Screen Equipment can cause various health and safety problems. These regulations require that ‘All employees are provided with adequate health and safety training in the use of any workstation upon which they may be required to work.’

The Personal Protection Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

These regulations ensure that PPE is provided when necessary, this includes providing adequate training and instructions on how to use.

Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

These regulations aim to where possible, remove the need for employees to conduct manual handling that is associated with the risk of injury, make risk assessments for the risks and provide weight information for loads.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

Ensures that employers have safe and suitable work equipment. This includes its maintenance and training to use it.

The benefits of Health & Safety training courses

Health and Safety Training is a fundamental part of being able to show your commitment to working towards compliance with current legislation and making sure your workplace is safe for those working in it. We have an extensive range of Health and Safety training courses to help you and your employees carry out your daily tasks confidently and safely. 

We have everything from Food Hygiene courses to Lone Worker Safety Training, so regardless of the requirements, we have the course to ensure all bases are covered when it comes to health and safety.

Free FAQs and resources

We offer a free FAQ & resources area on our website, providing supporting documents and videos from our Health & Safety courses. We also have an extensive FAQs section with some of the most common questions asked about all things health and safety related.

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