Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 - HSE Policy

The purposes of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (the HSW Act) 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 people at work.

Section 3 of the HSW Act places general duties on employers and the self-employed towards people other than their employees.

Enforcing section 3

Since the scope of section 3 is very broad, HSE has adopted this policy to help enforcing authorities exercise discretion when determining action, including selecting incidents for investigation where a breach of section 3 is suspected. It will also help HSE staff to apply the principles set out in HSE's Enforcement Policy Statement consistently, when deciding which incidents to prioritise within the resources available.

Arrangements for enforcing section 3 need to take account of HSE's priorities, as set out in the strategy 'The Health and Safety of Great Britain \\ Be Part of the Solution', while continuing to meet the HSW Act section 18 duty to make adequate arrangements for enforcing the relevant statutory provisions.

HSE has decided that:

Working with other regulators

There are many situations where work activities that may give rise to risks to health and safety are regulated by other authorities using legislation that may address circumstances which are also relevant to health and safety at work issues.

However, initial enquiries, or information from other sources, may indicate that a breach of section 3 was or is the probable cause of, or a significant contributory factor to, the injury or risk complained of. In such circumstances, HSE and other enforcing authorities should generally consider investigating if:

Deciding which authority will lead an investigation

There may be, however, a relevant health and safety interest in some aspects of a work activity covered by specific legislation. HSE seeks to agree with other authorities who should take the lead on an investigation (to avoid unnecessary overlaps and time delays) and, where there may be a need to act alongside each other, which activities are most appropriately dealt with by each authority.

HSE expects enforcing authorities to consider the following principles when deciding whether it is suitable for them to take the lead on an investigation:

Updated 2022-10-12