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Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 - Section 3: Enforcement - Introduction

This replaces OC 130/10


General guidance on the selection, for investigation, of incidents that may have arisen as a result of breaches of section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.


The purposes of HSWA include protecting people other than those at work from risks to their health and safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work (s.1(1)(b) HSWA). Risks include those attributable to 'the manner of conducting an undertaking' (s.1(3) HSWA). The scope of the general duties set out in section 3 HSWA (section 3) is very broad and the guidance in this document will assist HSE staff in the exercise of discretion when selecting incidents for investigation where a breach of section 3 is suspected.

These instructions and the Section 3, HSW Act: Policy complement HSE's Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS) [89KB] . The EPS, which has been developed in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, makes clear that HSC expects enforcing authorities to exercise discretion/judgement in deciding when to investigate or what enforcement action may be appropriate; and that such judgements will be in accordance with those principles set out in the Cabinet Office's Enforcement Concordat on good enforcement practice, which are contained in the Enforcement Policy Statement.

HSE's arrangements for enforcing section 3 need to take account of health and safety priorities - most recently set out in HSE's strategy 'The Health and Safety of Great Britain \\ Be Part of the Solution' - whilst continuing to meet the section18 HSWA duty to make adequate arrangements for enforcing the relevant statutory provisions.

Updated 2016-02-25