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4. The law
Health and safety laws are there to protect you, your workers and the public from workplace risks. In general, they apply to all businesses.
Health and Safety at Work Act
This is the main law governing health and safety at work in Great Britain.
The Act places general duties on employers, and some self-employed people to do what is ‘reasonably practicable’ to ensure your health and safety and that of others who may be affected by what you do or do not do.
This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control it in terms of money, time or trouble.
More on the Health and Safety at Work Act
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
Under these Regulations, employers must put arrangements in place to control health and safety risks.
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations on legislation.gov.uk
Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations
These regulations cover a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues and apply to most businesses.
More on the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations
Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations
Under these Regulations, employers have a duty to consult with their workers, or their representatives, on health and safety matters.
These Regulations apply in workplaces where:
- the employer recognises trade unions
- trade unions are recognised for collective bargaining purposes
More on the joint regulations for consulting with workers and their safety representatives
Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations
These Regulations apply in workplaces where workers are not covered by representatives appointed by recognised trade unions.
More information on consulting workers.
Legal duties for workers
Workers must take care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their actions at work.
They must also co-operate with employers and co-workers to help everyone meet their legal requirements.
Criminal and civil law
Both criminal (health and safety law) and civil law apply to workplace health and safety. They're not the same.