Legal framework

The law relating to health and safety has evolved on two fronts: by statute and through the common law. Until the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 was enacted, there was no real framework to the law on health and safety in the UK.
Previous legislation consisted of prescriptive rules which employers were required to follow. Lord Robens was instrumental in the development of health and safety law and his report of 1972 formed the basis for the Act. The Robens approach was to establish goals rather than rules within a legal framework that required employers, for instance, to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work. Subordinate legislation which followed the 1974 Act was designed on similar principles, however not all modern legislation is written in this way and some sets absolute standards to be followed, for example, use of explosives in demolition.
The 1974 Act is the principal UK legislation concerning health and safety and it is under this Act that the majority of health and safety regulations are empowered.

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