Health and safety regulations in the United Kingdom

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In the United Kingdom there are many regulations relevant to health and safety at work. Many of these give effect to European Union directives.

Regulations made under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974[edit]

Breach of the regulations is a crime throughout the UK. In England and Wales contravention is punishable on summary conviction or on indictment with an unlimited fine.[1] Either an individual or a corporation can be punished,[2] and sentencing practice is published by the Sentencing Guidelines Council.[3]

In England and Wales, a person who suffered damage caused by a breach of the regulations, used to have a cause of action in tort against the offender.[4] However, section 69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013[5] repealed this right of action. This prevents a claimant for claiming damages against an employer for contravention of an absolute duty. Instead, they must now prove that the employer was negligent as with other torts. A similar right of action exists in Scotland through the law of delict.

The "six pack" regulations[edit]

Worker consultation[edit]

  • Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977[12]
  • Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996

Both of these (as amended) are supported by Approved Codes of Practice and guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).[13]

  • Offshore Installations (Safety Representatives and Safety Committees) Regulations 1989


A full list of all UK Health and Safety legislation can be found on the HSE website.[33]

Statutory inspection[edit]

A number of statutes require a "thorough inspection" to take place at prescribed intervals. The HSE describes a thorough inspection as "a systematic and detailed examination of the equipment and safety-critical parts, carried out at specified intervals by a competent person who must then complete a written report".[34]

The main statutory inspection regulations are:[35]

Category Legislation Frequency of thorough inspection Notes
Lifting and handling plant including passenger lifts Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) regulation 9 6 monthly for equipment which lifts persons, otherwise 12 monthly
Power presses, guards and protection devices, other dangerous machinery Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), especially Regulations 32–35 On installation and relocation, thereafter 12 monthly where there are fixed guards, otherwise 6 monthly.[36] In addition, PUWER makes employers responsible for ensuring that any work equipment exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to cause dangerous conditions is inspected at suitable intervals
Pressure systems Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR) In accordance with a written scheme of examination
Local exhaust ventilation (LEVs) and extraction plant Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) Every 14 months [37]
Protective equipment for working at heights Work at Heights Regulations 2005 regulation 12 At suitable intervals Such visual or more rigorous inspection by a competent person as is appropriate for safety purposes, including appropriate testing [38]


The registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals in the UK reflects the EU REACH regulation (EC 1907/2006).[39]

Having entered into force in 2007, REACH provisions were phased in over a period of 11 years.[40]


  1. ^ Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, ss.33(1)(c), 33(3)
  2. ^ Interpretation Act 1978, s.5
  3. ^ "(K) Miscellaneous offences - Health and Safety offences". Guideline Judgements Case Compendium. Sentencing Guidelines Council. 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
  4. ^ Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, s.47
  5. ^ "Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013". Retrieved 2016-06-07.
  6. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^[bare URL]
  8. ^ The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
  9. ^ The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
  10. ^ The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
  11. ^ The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
  12. ^ Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977
  13. ^ TUC Education, Consulting workers on health and safety: Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (as amended) and Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 (as amended) - Approved Codes of Practice and guidance, L146, second edition with amendments, published 2014, accessed 29 June 2021
  14. ^ Dangerous Substances in Harbour Areas Regulations 1987
  15. ^ The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  16. ^ "The Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations 1995".
  17. ^ The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997
  18. ^ Statutory Instrument 1998 No. 2307
  19. ^ SI 1999/257
  20. ^ Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999
  21. ^ UK Legislation, Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000
  22. ^ Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002
  23. ^ SI 2002/1689
  24. ^ Control of Lead at Work Regulations 1997
  25. ^ SI 2002/2677
  26. ^ The Work at Height Regulations 2005
  27. ^ Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005
  28. ^ The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013
  29. ^[bare URL]
  30. ^[bare URL PDF]
  31. ^ "The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2017".
  32. ^ The Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2019
  33. ^ HSE Health and Safety legislation
  34. ^ HSE, Thorough examinations and inspections of lifting equipment, accessed 12 August 2020
  35. ^ Industrial Safety inspections, Inspection Regulations, accessed 23 February 2020
  36. ^ HSE Books, Safe use of power presses: Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (as applied to power presses), Approved Code of Practice and guidance, second edition (2104), reference L112, accessed 11 August 2020
  37. ^ Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, Regulation 9,, accessed 12 August 2020
  38. ^ The Work at Height Regulations 2005, Regulation 1,, accessed 26 February 2020
  39. ^ "Defra's statement of forthcoming legislation 2008" (PDF). Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. March 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-03.
  40. ^ European Commission, REACH, accessed 12 August 2020


  • [Various authors] (2007). Tolley's Health and Safety at Work Handbook 2007. London: Butterworths. ISBN 978-0-7545-3318-4.
  • Stranks, J. (2005). Health and Safety Law (5th ed.). London: Prentise Hall. ISBN 9780131976467.