Legal Requirements in Health & Safety


If you run a company and employ people to work on your behalf, whether at a static site such as a factory or offices, or in a remote location, such as a building site, or even if someone is at home, then you have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of those employees.

This is a legal requirement according to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which also covers equipment, PPE and any other issue that affects the wellbeing of staff.

Health and safety essentials

As a bare minimum, every employee needs to go through a basic Health and Safety training programme which covers the key areas of health and safety to ensure that your workplace is kept safe. Included in this basic course is:

– Responsibilities and legal requirements
– Responsibilities and legal requirements
– Identifying hazards and risks
– Safety signs at work
– Maintaining a safe working environment
– Workplace emergency procedures

Specialised courses

Yet going beyond the basic health and safety is crucial depending on the nature of your business. For example, a small office with half a dozen people working in desk jobs are considered low risk. There would be little need putting anyone through a training course relating to working at height, unless they were particularly tasked with using stepladders and access equipment.

However, a team of workers who regularly work on a construction site at height are considered much higher risk. Courses such as the PASMA (Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association) are legally required to ensure that everyone is working to the same high standards of safety.

As a result there are a number of specialised PASMA training in the UK, from Newcastle to Nuneaton, that companies around the country offer to ensure that the highest standards of conduct, care and behaviour are maintained.

Failure to comply

Failure to comply with health and safety legislation can result in prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive. H&S inspectors visit thousands of businesses across the UK every year. They have a legal right to enter a business premises with or without notice, to carry out an inspection of the way in which you conduct your daily operations regarding the welfare of your workforce. They have the legal right to inspect any machinery and equipment, checking on records and maintenance protocols.

As a first port of call they will discuss health and safety improvements with you. If you are deemed to be breaking any laws, they will notify you of this, and issue you with an improvement notice. They will always give you the opportunity to make those improvements, but it will be within a certain time limit – and they will return to ensure that any changes and improvements have been made.

If an inspector feels that a particular activity creates an immediate risk of potential injury, they will issue a prohibition notice, which means you must stop that activity with immediate effect.

Ultimately, the Health and Safety Executive has the right to prosecute if you are breaking any laws or breaking a prohibition order.

Cost non compliance to the economy

When you consider that in 2019 it was estimated that the cost of injuries and ill health caused by working conditions cost the UK economy £18.8 billion, enforcement of safe working conditions is an essential element of the working landscape in the UK. In 2021, 123 workers were killed in work related accidents. The knock on effect on families, work colleagues and the businesses themselves of a death is far reaching. Ensuring compliance with the statutes put out by the Health and Safety Executive is actually the bare minimum of what companies should be doing to protect the welfare of their workforces.


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