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What is The Health and Safety at Work Act

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 has been in place in the UK as a vital piece of legislation that applies to all workplaces and organisations, no matter what their size is. In this blog post, we're here to talk in more detail about this act so read on to find out more.

We also have a range of health and safety e-Learning courses available at Beaconrisk for you and your employees.


What is the Health and Safety at Work Act?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is in place to keep people safe at work, it legally ensures that all employers provide a safe working environment and look out for the health of their employees - wherever they work.

This act is in place to protect the well-being of not only staff that are permanent members of a team but also casual, self-employed, temporary workers and also visiting members of the public.


The Key Point of the Act

As the Health and Safety at Work Act is an extensive document, here are some key points below to break it down and help you to understand it more clearly.


Provide a Safe Place at Work

This is the physical space around someone whilst they work, this part of the Act ensures that the premise is up to standard. It includes considerations like fire safety, cleanliness, waste management and the handling of harmful substances. Workplaces like construction sites or medical labs, for example, will, of course, have more factors to consider than an office workplace.


Provide Safe Equipment

Any equipment used at work should be safe to use, this includes computers and electronic devices - any electrical items must be maintained too to make sure they are safe to use.

Safety checks of equipment should be carried out regularly by an appointed person and report any faults so can be repaired accordingly.


Ensure Staff are Trained

For a workplace to be safe, it is important that all staff on the premises are properly trained and know what they are doing. If staff are not properly trained, in some industries this could cause a risk to themselves and other employees. The training includes both onsite trainings, so all staff know how to use equipment safely and properly and also training on general health and safety, such as manual handling and fire safety.


Carry Out Risk Assessments

Risk assessments are important as part of this Health and Safety at Work Act and are required to be thoroughly done. Once the appropriate risk assessment is done the appropriate preventative actions for each risk can be identified.

A key thing to remember is that if something is identified as a risk but a low risk then it might not need to be actioned if the cost of doing so is significant.


Provide Proper Facilities

This covers the basic facilities required to work, including toilets, clean drinking water, heating and air conditioning. Any kitchen appliances or facilities provided such be checked and maintained accordingly. Employees also have their part to play in keeping these areas clean, today and always taking responsibility for their health and safety too, this will help to keep on top of standards.


Appoint a Competent Person

This is required for those who are responsible for ensuring that all health and safety duties are being carried out and adhered to. This person must have the necessary knowledge and ability to ensure requirements are met successfully.

Your competent person can be appointed to yourself, an employee or someone external, although it may be sometimes easier and better if you appoint someone who knows the business and the building premises well to be able to know what things to look for and to keep on top of things.

The duties of a competent person might include routine safety inspections, whilst managing day-to-day operations and working with safety reps throughout the business. If your organisation is attached to a union, you’ll also be required to liaise with an appointed representative.

To find out more about the requirements needed to become a competent person and how to appoint one - take a look at our blog post here.


Health and Safety in 2022

This health and safety law was brought in to prevent work-related accidents, deaths and illnesses. With 2022 being an era of remote and also hybrid working has become the norm, how would the Health and Safety at Work Act now apply? Employers may have to think about other ways how they can ensure their staff are safe whilst working from home - this could include off-site screen display equipment and maintaining communication whilst at home along with managing stress.

Following the framework of these points ensures all aspects of health and safety at work are covered. If you need any further help or advice from the Beaconrisk team, feel free to get in touch.