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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. This Act is enforced by the HSE in partnership with local authorities as well as a number of other Acts and Statutory Instruments that are relevant to the workplace.

This Act assigns a wide range of duties to the employer. The employer has a duty to ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees’ as well as others on the premises e.g. temps, casual workers, visitors & self-employed people.

"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

The key part of this legislation is the ‘so far as reasonably practicable’. This makes it difficult to define exactly what should be done to ensure the Health & Safety of people on work premises. However, it does not mean that employers can avoid their responsibilities by claiming that, for example, the cost of a safety measure is not worth it.

It is also important to have policies and procedures in place to make sure that in the event of an accident, it is correctly documented and the person or people it affects are given the right care, compensation (if needed) and the right amount of time off work (if required).

The HASAWA requires that workplaces 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.

The Act 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 working with hazardous materials (COSHH).

Risk Assessments

As part of the legislation states, as far as “reasonably practicable” employers should use risk assessments to assess risks to employees health and safety.

In order to reduce the possibility or frequency of accidents at work, it is important to carry out risk assessments at regular intervals. Unfortunately, there is no direct guidance on how often a risk assessment should be carried out.

Download our free Health & Safety checklist - a great tool for employers or anyone in charge of Health & Safety!

Other Relevant Legislation

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

This legislation covers the need to make risk assessments in the workplace to reduce risks. They also involve nominating a ‘responsible person’ whose responsibility it is to oversee health and safety, providing the right training and providing a 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.

Our Training & FAQ Area

We offer a FREE FAQ & resources area on our website that provides supporting documents and videos from our courses as well as some of our most common FAQs.

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. 

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