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Health and safety in contracting situations
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Health and safety in contracting situations

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As a principal to a contract, you are liable for the health and safety of contractors under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. If you fail in your duty the Act provides for substantial penalties. If you are in business and contract people or businesses to do work for you, then you will have duties as a principal under the Act. Putting work out to contract doesn’t remove your health and safety obligations and is therefore not the "easy option". You cannot pass on a legal duty that falls on you as an employer, a person in control of a place of work, or a principal in terms of the Act. The aim of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (the Act)is the prevention of harm to people at work or as a result of work activities. To do this, the Act places a range of duties and responsibilities on people in the workplace to manage hazards and ensure work is done safely. The Act creates a duty requiring principals to a contract to take "all practicable steps" to ensure contractors, subcontractors and their employees are not harmed while undertaking work under the contract.

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Last updated 13 September 2013


On Monday 4 April 2016, the New Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) came into effect.

HSWA repeals the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, with immediate effect.

All references to the 1992 Act on this website and within our guidance will be progressively removed.