Workplace Health and Safety responsibilities for employers have grown consistently over the course of the last 50 years.
Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what your employer is obligated to provide for you in respect to health and safety. Equally, if you employ people, it can feel like a bit of a minefield trying to figure out what you need to do.
At it’s most basic level, the Health and Safety at Work Act (UK) gives us a general idea of the minimum expectations in the workplace.
Health and Safety Responsibilities for Employers - Recap
Your duty as an employer under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) and the associated Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations is to provide you with a safe and healthy workplace, and this includes:
- Providing safe plant and systems of work – enabling work to be carried out with lowest reasonable practicable risk
- Safe use, handling and transport of substances and materials
- Safe place of work – a working environment that minimises risk to health and safety, including adequate welfare facilities
- Carrying out risk assessments – as set out in regulations, and taking steps to eliminate or control these risks;
- Instruction, training and supervision – inform workers fully about all potential hazards & risk controls associated with any work process, chemical substance or activity, including;
- ‘Competent advice‘ available for health and safety – appoint someone suitably competent to manage H&S arrangements
- Consult the workforce on H&S issues
- Report and investigate relevant accident, diseases and dangerous occurrences – under RIDDOR regulations
This is just a summary of the main requirements relevant to the UK but it does not cover everything! For the latest specific & detailed information on Health and Safety legislation, always consult the UK government website at legislation.gov.uk
Now that you know the key health and safety responsibilities for employers, why not find out the responsibilities of employee’s?
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Health and Safety Responsibilities for Employers - in more detail!
We’re going to look at the eight key health and safety responsibilities for employers, specifically in the United Kingdom (UK).
And because it all relates back to the Health and Safety at Work Act and the associated regulations, sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what you are expected to do, as an employer, in respect to health and safety.
That’s something that we’re going to shed some light on here with some of the key health and safety responsibilities for employers.
If you employ people, it can feel very difficult and confusing at times trying to figure out what you actually need to be doing for your employees.
At its most basic level, the Health and Safety at Work Act gives us the general idea of what the minimum expectations should be in a workplace. If you are an employer, you’re duty under the Health and Safety Work Act and the management regulations is to provide a safe and healthy workplace for your employees.
So what does this actually mean?
These are the 8 pieces of the legislation that we have pulled out for you. Just to give you an overview of the type of things that are expected.
Safe Plant and Equipment
Number one is to provide safe plant and systems of work. Any equipment that you have, it’s just about making sure that you’re enabling the work can be carried out safely with the lowest practicable or reasonable risk.
Also that you have appropriate means of carrying out the work, whether it be procedures, processes and so on to allow people to do it in a safe manner.
Safe Handling & Transport of Goods and Materials
Leading on from that then the next one is the safe use handling and transport of substances and materials.
Really that is relating back to your systems of work but it’s also about movement of any goods.
To be able to do that safely. The use of hazardous chemicals for example, if you’re transporting those around etc.
This point is really trying to focus on the fact that when you’re moving, whether it be building materials plant and equipment, hazardous chemicals and so on. It is recognising that those are circumstances whenever people are exposed to higher risk.
It’s just making sure that that type of thing is planned properly and you’re doing it in a safe way. Not only just thinking about the operation of the equipment or the use of the materials but ensuring that they’re moved around put in place transported in a safe manner.
Safe Place of Work
OK, number three then is simply to provide a safe place of work. This might seem an obvious one but sometimes we assume that we will be working in an area that is risk free or certainly low risk.
But it’s important to understand that although creating a safe place of work is very important, maintaining it is equally if not more important.
It’s always useful to be aware of just the condition of a workplace at any given moment in time. Also, that there are mechanisms in place to sustain a risk free or low risk environment, including provision of adequate welfare facilities.
Carry out Risk Assessments
Number four then is carrying out risk assessments. As set out in the management regulations in the UK here, you need to take steps to eliminate or control risks within your work.
For the most part you need to have those recorded and listed and that communicated with your staff.
Instruction, Training and Supervision
Number five is about instruction, training and supervision for your workers.
Really that boils down to informing workers fully about the hazards and the risk controls that are associated with any of your work processes, any substances or materials that you’re using or any other activities that are related to their job.
Although much of the time people focus on the paperwork end of things in the planning side of it. It is extremely important to make sure that the instruction and training, and also supervision where necessary, is in place to make sure that people understand what they’re doing and how to do it as well.
Competent Health and Safety Advice
The next one then is making sure you have competent advice for health and safety. Ensuring then really that you appoint someone either in-house or externally to come in to cast an eye over your systems and your arrangements and help you manage them.
For a lot of smaller businesses depending on the risk profile of your business i.e. what industry you’re in and the risk associated with your work, you may be happy enough to appoint someone internally.
Get them trained up a little and have them look after your health and safety arrangements. if you’re a bit bigger or you don’t have the expertise or in-house at resource available.
Then you might want to bring someone from the outside in to perform that competent person role for your business.
Consulting your Workforce
We’ve already talked about instruction training and supervision.
This is more so just making sure that you’re consistently informing employees on any ongoing changes or issues that are being dealt with.
Much of the time this may be dealt with in the way of a health and safety committee, for example.
Where the leadership will come together and invite employees or staff to have input and give them feedback on what they’re actually doing to improve health and safety in the business.
Accidents and Incidents
Last but they certainly no means least. Here in the UK, your responsibility as an employer is to make sure you report and investigate relevant accidents diseases and dangerous occurrences.
In other words, anything that falls under the RIDDOR regulations which we’ve already had a podcast episode on which you can refer back to for a bit more detail.
That's it for Health and Safety Responsibilities for Employer's
That’s it for this little summary of the main health and safety responsibilities for employers in the UK.
But it doesn’t cover everything, it’s the 8 main pieces that I have pulled out as I see it.
For more specific and detailed information on health and safety law here in the UK, just go over to the UK government or regulators websites. For those who are outside the UK of course, you’ll want to visit whichever relevant website would be applicable for your own regulator or government.
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