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Health & Safety Celebrates its 40th Birthday

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of workplace health & safety in the UK. Today, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is still the primary piece of legislation covering work-related health and safety in the United Kingdom.

Workplace illness and injury imposes a huge cost to the UK economy with approximately 28 million workdays lost last year, which costs society an estimated £13 billion each year*. Unfortunately, the cost to the UK is not just economical. Last year, 148 employees were killed at work in the UK, with the North West region accounting for 15 of these deaths, and the West Midlands accounting for 14*.

Over the last 40 years the Act has defined the general duties of employers, employees, contractors, suppliers of goods and substances for use at work, persons in control of, managing or maintaining work premises. The Act has also enabled a broad regime of regulation to be put in place by ministers which has, in the years since 1974, generated an extensive system of specific provisions for various industries, disciplines and risks.

With 40 years passing since the implementation of The Health & Safety at Work Act, now is the perfect time for employers to put Health & Safety back on the board meeting agenda.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) commented:

“Whilst the number of workplace deaths and major injuries has decreased nationally, these statistics highlight why we still need good health and safety in workplaces.

“I therefore urge employers to spend their time tackling the real dangers that workers face and stop worrying about trivial matters or pointless paperwork.

“It’s important to remember that while we still have one of the lowest rates of workplace deaths in Europe, one death is still one too many. I would urge businesses to focus on good management of risk to help to further cut the number of deaths and injuries in 2014.”

In time for the 40th anniversary of the Health & Safety Act, the HSE has also published a new approved code of practice (ACOP) on asbestos to help businesses understand how to work safely with asbestos.

Staffordshire and Shropshire based Health & Safety expert and business owner Tori Davies, who also celebrates her 40th birthday this year, commented:  “Since starting Saracen Solutions in 2006 I have worked with nearly 300 companies within 20 industries and have found that sometimes even the basics can go overlooked.”

She added: “Sharing my 40th birthday with the 40th anniversary of Health & Safety legislation in the UK makes me feel like I was born into Health & Safety! It is important that this year companies make it their resolution to be aware of this important piece of legislation, the new codes of practice coming into place this year, and their obligations.”

Information on tackling health and safety dangers in workplaces is available on HSE’s website at

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