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The Health and Safety at Work Act

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is the main legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain.

It’s sometimes called HSWA, the HSW Act, the 1974 Act or HASAWA.

You can read the act in full on the website

The objectives of the act include:

  • securing the health, safety and welfare of people at work
  • protecting others against risks to health or safety relating to the activities of people at work
  • controlling the keeping and use of dangerous substances

Other acts cover specific industries and activities.


Regulations are law, approved by Parliament which are made under an act.

Certain industries and work have specific regulations, such as:

  • managing health and safety in construction
  • manual handling
  • managing and working with asbestos

In practice, to comply with the act and regulations, you must control the risks in your workplace and keep on top of how you do it. For basic information on how to do this, go to Health and safety made simple.

View health and safety acts and regulations

Updated 2019-09-24