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Health and Safety Law & Essential Guidance for Employers

July 11, 2019 | By: Victoria Owings

health and safety lawThere are two parts to Health and Safety Law – civil and criminal. They’re not the same. As an employer, you must protect your workers and others from getting hurt or ill through work.
Failure to put effective safety procedures in place could result in the following action:

  • A regulator such as the Health and Safety Executive or local authority may take action against you under criminal law.
  • The person affected may make a claim for compensation against you under civil law. Neither the Health and Safety Executive nor local authorities enforce civil law or set the rules for the conduct of civil cases.

Health and Safety Law (Criminal Law)

Under Health and Safety Law, as an employer, you have a responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health, safety and welfare.
Health and safety law for Great Britain is made up of:

  • Acts of Parliament
  • Statutory instruments (regulations)
  • The main piece of legislation is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA)

Certain work activities have specific regulations, such as those for construction work or working with asbestos.

Complying with the Law

health and safety lawNo one has to have been harmed for an offence to be committed under HSWA – there only has to be a risk of harm. The most important thing is what you actually do to manage and control risk in the workplace. Paperwork alone does not prove that you’re complying with the law. Do not overstate the health and safety controls you have or are planning to put in place. If you do, that could be used against you.


If you do not comply with a regulation relevant to your work, you’ll normally be committing a criminal offence. You could:

  • Get an improvement notice
  • Be prosecuted

If the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have to help you put things right, you’ll need to pay for their time. This is called a Fee For Intervention (FFI).
The current hourly charge for FFI is £154, with the total fee based on the length of time taken by the HSE to complete its regulatory action. For example if as a result of an HSE inspection a letter of email is sent to your business the FFI could be approx. £750.
If you are fined by the HSE, not only will you have to pay the fine but also the FFI and any legal costs.

Who enforces Health and Safety Law?

The authority that’s responsible for enforcing H&S Law depends on the type of workplace. Mostly it will be HSE or the local authority.

Employer Guidance | Action 5 Key Safety Procedures

  • Identify and understand the legislation that applies to your workplace.
  • Risk Assessments should be carried out that address all risks that might cause harm in your workplace.
  • Make your workplace SAFE & HEALTHY by effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace.
  • Inform your workforce about the risks and how they will be protected.
  • Consult with your workforce on all Health & Safety related issues.

We provide Health and Safety advice and support to all kinds of businesses, nationwide. Protect your business and your staff, book in your Health and Safety Audit today.

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About the Author
Victoria Owings
Victoria Owings
Victoria Owings, Author at Wirehouse Employer Services