Putting it simply- What is Health and Safety Law?

Posted: 07 March 2023

Health and Safety Law is made up of acts of parliament and regulations. The main piece of legislation is the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1975. [HSWA] However, many specific work activities such as construction work, working with dangerous substances or materials such as asbestos have their own specified regulations.

Health and safety law has a number of elements that provide the duties of employers, employees, self-employed, the public and others. The HSWA sets out the general duties which employers have to employees and members of the public. As well as the duties employees have to themselves and each other and the duties the self-employed have towards themselves and others.

What is health and safety


Health and Safety Law may be enforced by the Health and Safety Executive or Local Authorities and may be enforced against anyone in breach.

It is important to note that criminal liability under the HSWA does not require someone to be harmed but simply a risk of harm may be enough to instigate an expensive investigation and criminal prosecution. Therefore, it is important that all Employers manage and control the risks in the workplace. Merely having paperwork is unlikely to demonstrate compliance with the law as paperwork alone does not protect persons from a risk to their health and safety.

Consequences of not complying

If you do not comply with the law and regulations, you will be committing a criminal offence which has varying and often significant consequences. You may be given verbal or written advice, be issued an improvement notice or prohibition notice or be prosecuted. These all have a cost and reputational effect on your business.

How to get advice

If you need advice about your responsibilities under health and safety law. Along with advice on how to assess the risks or train your managers about risks or have been served with an improvement or prohibition notice or are being prosecuted. Please get in touch with our regulatory team on 01245 493 959 or send us an email.

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