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Health and safety law

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974  applies to everyone at work, whether self-employed, an employer or an employee. Employers must take reasonable steps to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people working for them. They must also think about the health and safety of anyone that might be affected by their activities or lack of action, including customers, visitors and contractors. No business is too large or too small to escape these duties.

The Act and the wide range of regulations made under it are enforced by local authorities or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), according to the main activity of each individual work premises.

Local authorities have responsibility for the enforcement of health and safety legislation in 1.2million business premises - in offices, shops, retail and wholesale distribution outlets, hotels, restaurants, residential care homes and throughout the leisure industry.

The HSE enforces the legislation in industry - factories, farms and building sites.

Health and safety laws

Health and safety prevents people from being harmed by taking the right precautions and providing a safe working environment. Because health and safety at work is so important, there are rules which require all of us not to put ourselves or others in danger. The law is also there to protect the public from workplace dangers. These laws apply to all firms, however small, to employees and to the self-employed.

The role of health and safety inspectors

Inspectors visit workplaces to check that people are sticking to the rules and to help them understand what is required to conform with the law. They enforce only when something is seriously wrong.

Health and safety enforcement

Health and safety enforcement is split between the council and the HSE. The responsibilities of the Food and Safety Team at Medway Council include:

  • offices
  • shops
  • consumer services, such as hotels and catering, warehouses, tyre and exhaust fitters, undertakers, therapeutic and beauty services and animal care
  • privately-owned leisure and entertainment facilities and
  • religious activities.

The team is not responsible for domestic premises or premises owned by the council.

Health and safety at other types of premises are enforced by the HSE. Matters relating to construction activities are enforced by its construction division.

Employer's liability compulsory insurance

If you employ anyone, you must display your employer's liability compulsory insurance certificate.

Health and safety law posters

If you employ anyone, you should display the health and safety law poster. The poster can be ordered from HSE website or by ring HSE Books on 01787 881165.

HSE infoline

For further advice, visit the HSE website or phone the HSE infoline on 0300 0031747.

Reporting an incident

Incidents in premises enforced by Medway Council can be reported to Medway Council. Incidents in other premises should be reported to the Health and Safety Executive online or by calling HSE Incident Contact Centre on 0845 3009923.