Oct 09, 2023
Read time : 10 mins
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) is the primary legislative framework covering professional health and safety standards in the United Kingdom. It is also known as the HSWA, the HSW Act, the 1974 Act, or HASAWA.
The act aims to explain and describe the wide-ranging responsibilities that employers and employees have to fulfil to ensure a safe and protective work environment. It also ensures practical compliance and assists organisations in understanding and implementing health and safety practices.
The HASWA 1974 set the general responsibilities of the workplace such as:
If your company has five or more employees, your employer must have a written record of their health and safety policy. The company must make employees aware of these policies.
With advanced technology and machinery, everyone must have a safe working environment to avoid unwanted incidents. This act has brought well-needed progress and advancement in the health and safety of employees.
The effectiveness of this act also forced other countries to apply and emulate this. The following statistics from a recent report show the reduction in work-related injuries after the implementation of this act between 1974 and 2015.
Though this act was drafted over 40 years ago, it is still relevant and applicable. The Health and Safety at Work Act has been a part of the UK legal system since 1974. The HASWA was developed as a result of serious and dangerous working conditions in factories and mines.
Grasping a relatively long piece of legislation can be challenging, but to simplify it, I have summarised the essential points.
The Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) regulations apply to all aspects of the working environment. It’s obligatory for employers to provide safe and appropriate workplaces to employees. These regulations apply to the majority of organisations. The major duties of employers under this act include provision for comfort, provision for sanitation of employees, such as restrooms and handwashing facilities, provision for the appropriate work environment and safety. The regulation also covers DSE, equipment maintenance, ventilation, and windows.
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 supports users of Display Screen Equipment (DSE). Workers who use such equipment for a significant amount of time (generally more than an hour per day or regularly) are classified as DSE users.
The regulation applies to all DSE employees who work remotely, full-time, part-time, onsite, or on contract. The regulations require employers to:
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, which were amended in 2002, consist of regulations that apply to a wide range of manual handling activities. Some of these are lifting, pushing, pulling, and lowering.
The regulations state that employers are responsible for manual handling operations and it requires employers to:
This order provides minimal fire safety standards in the workplace. The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order is applicable in England and Wales only.
Employers are responsible for fire safety at the workplace. They must:
While it is essential to take reasonable precautions at work if an accident or another dangerous situation arises, it must be reported under RIDDOR regulations. The law applies to only “reported incidents” at work-related premises. Before reporting an incident, you must know:
How work is performed or supervised?
If not, then it is not a reportable incident. Moreover, RIDDOR by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has provided complete guidance and defined criteria for reportable incidents.
These regulations define that employers are responsible for providing Personal Protective Equipment to employees at work to avoid any type of risk and safety threats. Protective face masks, visors, helmets, goggles, gloves, ear protectors, overalls, safety boots, air filters, and hairnets are examples of PPE equipment that must be provided.
PPE is the abbreviation of Personal Protective Equipment. Protective face masks, visors, helmets, goggles, gloves, ear protectors, overalls, safety boots, air filters, and hairnets are some examples of personal protective equipment.
What are the employer’s duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act?
The primary duties of employers under this act are to provide you with a safe and healthy work environment. It can be done by offering a safe system of work, providing safe equipment, carrying out operations and assessments, giving necessary training to employees, and keeping staff informed about all risks and hazards.
What are the main health and safety regulations?
The primary regulations that come under this act are workplace regulations, health, and safety regulations, manual handling operations regulations, reporting of injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences regulations, personal protective equipment regulations and many more.
What are the working time regulations in the 1998 act?
The working time regulations of 1998 specified and limited the working hours for employees. Under this act, if you are an adult you can work 48 hours a week with a daily rest period of 11 hours and a rest break every 6 hours of work.
Undoubtedly, the Health and Safety at Work Act is one of the most successful acts in the UK. The success of this act is beyond doubt and the figures speak for themselves. On work premises where hundreds of employees were losing their lives by being exposed to fatal or nonfatal injuries, this act proved to be a life saviour.