Safety at work

Safety at work

As an employer it's your responsibility to keep your workplace and employees safe.

You also need to provide reasonable welfare facilities for workers and visitors including:

  • toilets
  • washing facilities with hot and cold water
  • rest and changing facilities
  • somewhere clean to eat, drink and take breaks
  • free drinking water that is safe and easily accessible

Safety officer

Businesses of all sizes should have a safety officer who is trained in safety management. A safety officer can:

  • carry out basic safety checks
  • liaise with enforcing authorities
  • act as a reference point for specialist contractors and consultants such as lift engineers, cooling tower specialists and cleaning contractors

Employer responsibilities

Health and safety information

A health and safety law poster can provide important information to your employees about health and safety in your workplace and the law.

To order a poster telephone 01787 881165.

Add these contact details into the last two boxes of the poster:

Enforcing Authority:
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Council Offices, 37 Pembroke Road
London W8 6PW
 Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS)
Health and Safety Executive
Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge
London SE1 9HS

First aid

Under Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 you need to provide first aid equipment, facilities and personnel. The minimum requirement is:

  • a suitably stocked first aid kit
  • an appointed person to take control of first aid arrangements

A first aid assessment can help you determine exactly what provision you need in your workplace. The assessment should cover:

  • any previous accidents
  • significant risks such as hazardous substances and dangerous equipment
  • number of employees
  • nature of working arrangements
  • employees with disabilities or illnesses

Competent persons

You need to appoint one or more competent persons to help you comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Training

Under Regulation 10 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 you need to provide understandable and relevant information to your staff about health and safety risks at work. This includes:

  • how to prevent accidents
  • how to protect workers
  • guidelines on manual handling operations, working with asbestos or using display screen equipment

Safety in your premises is crucial, whatever the the size of your business. Relevant training courses can help keep your premises and staff safe. Training organisations include:

Staff and management

You should inform and train all members of staff about:

  • any new procedures, processes and policies
  • how to use new equipment and chemicals

You must also provide any necessary personal protective equipment such as:

  • gloves
  • goggles
  • clothing
  • helmets
  • ear defenders

Temperatures of the workplace

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 set no maximum or minimum temperature at work. They state that ‘during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable.’

The regulations recommend that workrooms be at least 16 degrees Celsius. If a workplace needs certain temperature conditions, such as a cold store, you need to provide suitable personal protective equipment.

Hours of work

The maximum number of hours a person should work is 48 hours in a week, unless there are certain conditions which apply under the ‘Working Time Regulations 1998.’

A worker is entitled to a 20-minute break when their working period is more than six hours. This break should be within the working period and not at the start or end of the period.

Young workers are entitled to a 30-minute break if they're required to work more than four and a half hours at a time.

Carry out a risk assessment

If you employ five or more employees you must record all significant hazards and associated risks to staff, and educate them on the management of those risks. You should:

  • provide suitable working space and work stations 
  • keep premises clean and avoid overcrowding 
  • provide suitable and sufficient lighting and ventilation 
  • provide emergency lighting 
  • provide adequate and clean sanitary facilities 
  • provide wash hand basins with hot and cold water, soap, and towel 
  • ensure that there are safe easy to open skylights and windows 
  • supply clean and wholesome drinking water 
  • sedentary workers must have suitable seating 
  • provide adequate and clean eating facilities
  • keep floors, passages and stairs clear 
  • fence dangerous machinery and put safety devices on them 
  • provide safety signs and safety information 
  • supply facilities for clothing storage 
  • ensure the workroom temperature is reasonable
  • remove refuse regularly 
  • avoid trailing wires 
  • send staff on proper training courses 
  • service machinery and equipment regularly 
  • provide and use personal protective equipment 
  • provide safe vehicle and pedestrian routes

Read more about risk assessments [PDF file] 

Safety checklist

This checklist shows some of the areas that need to be checked for health and safety. When you're inspecting the workplace, be critical and write down anything that is wrong or you are not sure about.

Fire escapes Fire extinguishers Heating Lighting
Ventilation Hazardous substances Legionellosis prevention Safety signs
Accident reporting First aid Sick room Risk assessments
Housekeeping Refurbishment programme Noise at work Filtration systems
Refuse disposal Trip hazards Lifting Reaching
Lift servicing Escalator servicing Emergency cut out switches Isolator switches
Gas mains stop cock Cleaning chemicals Personal protective equipment Legal documentation
Staff training Management training Awareness campaigns Local authority liaison
Trade association liaison Safety committees Approved codes of practice Legislation
Further reading Equipment replacement Machinery maintenance Provision of facilities

Health and Safety policy statements

If your business employs five or more people you must produce a written health and safety policy statement. The statement falls into three areas:

  • a general statement of intent signed by the senior owner, partner or director of the business to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and users of the premises
  • the arrangements regarding health and safety - who does what to ensure health and safety
  • the organisation - how health and safety is organised and what to do if there is an incident such as a fire, injury or mechanical failure

Legislation

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires the preparation and writing down of a health and safety policy statement.

Guidance on preparing a health and safety policy document for small firms

Consulting employees on safety

Consulting employees on health and safety:

  • helps develop a safety culture in your businesses
  • can reduce workplace accidents

Consultation is a two-way process. It's an opportunity for you to give advice and instruction to employees, but also to listen and act on information from them.

Legislation

By law, employers must consult all of their employees on health and safety matters. Legislation that requires consultation includes:

  • The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977
  • The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996

Find out more:

Common workplace hazards

Practical advice on workplace risks and legislation.