Health and Safety Short Talk – The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

This legislation sets out responsibilities for employers and employees. It is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive.

Employer Responsibilities

Under this legislation your employer must:

  • Protect the Health, Safety and Welfare of all their employees at work.
  • Provide and maintain safe plant and safe systems of work.
  • Make sure that materials and substances are stored, transported, handled and used safely.
  • Provide information, instruction, training and supervision to employees.
  • Ensure that premises are safe and healthy places to work.

Employee Responsibilities

You must:

  • Protect your own health and safety, and that of others who may be affected by your work, by working safely.
  • Co-operate with your employer in relation to health and safety (including following instructions and providing your view).
  • Make sure you know when to wear PPE, and wear it when needed.
  • Report anything you think is unsafe.


Depending on the industry you work in, the Health and Safety Executive, or your local authority will enforce health and safety law in your workplace. They will:

  • Offer advice about health and safety.
  • Carry out inspections.
  • Investigate serious incidents.
  • Take enforcement action if there is a breach of health and safety law.

HSE Inspectors can:

  • Demand entry to a workplace at any time.
  • Interview anyone without caution.
  • Prosecute a company, employer or individual.
  • Issue improvement notices – these are issued if something is unsafe and gives a timeframe for correction.
  • Issue prohibition notices – these are issued if the inspector believes that there is a high risk to the health and safety of employees or others. Work must stop until the issues are corrected.
  • Charge a fee for intervention when a breach of legislation has been identified. This is an hourly fee that is charged for site visits, writing letters and providing guidance.
  • Gather evidence including photos, samples or equipment.
  • Inspect documentation.
  • Demand that the scene of an accident remains undisturbed.
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