The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (also referred to as HSWA, the 1974 Act, the HSW or HASAWA) is the primary piece of UK health and safety legislation. It requires employers to ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work’ of all of their employees.
The main requirements of this Act are:
The Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008, lays out the maximum penalties that can be made against defendants under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (for more information on this Act see above). The Act, which came into force in January 2009, gives lower courts the power to impose fines and/or imprisonment for the following health and safety offences:
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to assess and manage risks to their employees and others as a result of any work activities. Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of the workplace including:
Employees are required to work in line with the training and instructions provided to them, and must notify their employer if there are any shortcomings in arrangements, or if there is any immediate danger to their health and safety at work.
In April 2008 the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force, and clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies and organisations where failures in health and safety management have resulted in a fatality.
This means that companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of a gross breach of a duty of care. Prosecutions under this Act will be of corporate bodies, not individuals, however the liability of individuals under health and safety law, or general criminal law, will be unaffected.