Application of health and safety legislation to the MOD

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) applies to MOD, its agencies and the armed forces within Great Britain. The Secretary of State for Defence can claim exemption on behalf of the armed forces from some requirements in the interests of national security, though in practice this is rarely exercised.

The MOD, as a Government Department, enjoys Crown privilege. This means that while health and safety legislation applies MOD is not subject to criminal enforcement action in the courts.  Instead of criminal enforcement action, administrative arrangements exist to mirror them - ultimately leading to a Crown Censure instead of prosecution. Details of crown enforcement taken against MOD can be found on HSEs enforcement pages.

The HSW Act does not apply in respect of the MOD's work activities and operations abroad.

Further information on application to British Forces abroad can be found on the FAQ section.

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Updated 2021-04-29