Advice On The Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAWA) is the main piece of legislation in Great Britain concerning workplace health and safety. The Act sets out the general duties that employers have regarding the safety of employees and any members of the public who may encounter their workplace. It also outlines the duties that employees have to themselves, each other and certain self-employed workers.

Proving that an employer failed to comply with this piece of legislation in a way that caused injury is an important part of starting a personal injury claim for an accident at work.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires all employers to take reasonable and practicable steps to ensure employee health, safety and welfare at work. This is the duty of care that employers owe to their employees. There are numerous ways employers can meet their health and safety obligations, for example:

  • They can conduct regular risk assessments in the workplace and control hazards as much as possible.
  • Ensure that tools, machinery and plant processes are safe to use and suitable for the task.
  • Provide staff with essential personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Ensure the correct manual handling techniques are used and that employees receive any required training in using them.
  • Make sure that workplaces have sufficient and correct lighting to avoid slips, trips and falls.
  • Train and supervise staff as needed and ensure that health and safety guidance is accessible to all.
  • Make any other arrangements to ensure the reduction of hazards to employees. If the hazard cannot be eliminated entirely, reasonably practicable steps should be taken to reduce it.

A graphic showing employees in various accidents in violation of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Employer Negligence

Taking regular proactive steps is an important way for employers to meet health and safety obligations. If they fail to do so, and an employee suffers an injury, the employer could be liable to compensate them in a personal injury claim. Employer negligence is defined in the following way:

  • A duty of care was in place at the moment of injury.
  • The employer failed to meet their duty of care obligation in some way.
  • This caused an employee to suffer an injury. 

Importantly, a personal injury claim against a negligent employer can be made for physical harm, psychological injury or both. Medical evidence would be needed to substantiate these claims. In addition to this, the financial repercussions of workplace injury can form part of a compensation claim.

If you feel confident that you meet the three criteria for proving negligence, speak to our team. They can assess if you have a valid personal injury claim based on a breach of duty outlined in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

In addition to our Legal Glossary, these external resources may be of use: