Approved Code of Practice (ACOP)
An ACOP is approved by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), with the consent of the Secretary of State. It describes the preferred or recommended methods (by HSE) that can be used, or standards to be met, to comply with the Regulations and the duties imposed by the Health & Safety at Work etc Act.
If you follow the advice you will be doing enough to comply with the law in respect of those specific matters on which the Code gives advice. You may use alternative methods to those set out in the Code in order to comply with the law. However, the Code has a special legal status. If you are prosecuted for breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the Code, you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or a Court will find you at fault.
The Guidance accompanying an ACOP (issued by the HSE) provides advice on achieving compliance, or it may give information of a general nature, including explanation of the requirements of the law, more specific technical information or references to further sources of information.
Following this Guidance is not compulsory, unless specifically stated, and you are free to take other action. If you do follow the Guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this Guidance.