Workplace Health and Safety UK

Workplace Health and Safety 2022 | UK Guide

Our Workplace Health and Safety 2022 guide shares with you the basics on what your business needs to know. It also links you to some of the most relevant content on our site as it continues to evolve.

If there’s anything you think we should add to it, please let us know with a comment at the very bottom of the page.

Workplace Health and Safety UK

What is Health and Safety?

Under Great Britain health and safety law and the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), it’s the employer’s responsibility to protect the health and safety of not only their employees, but also anyone else who might be affected by the business.

In Northern Ireland, similar legislation is imposed under The Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978. Elsewhere around the world, many countries have similar legislation now in place.

In the United States, similar legislation is called the Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970), and the Work Health and Safety (2011) Act in Australia. In Ireland, the main piece of legislation is the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

The law recognises that 100% protection is not a realistic expectation. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 say this about it: ‘employers have a legal duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable*, the health, safety and welfare at work of employees‘.

Concerned about Workplace Health and Safety?

The context of workplace health and safety law varies broadly, depending on which country you are in. For some, the legal obligations may not be very specific at all.

However, any company that operates internationally will usually perform to an expected level, such as that dictated by international standards like ISO 45001 – the management standard for health and safety.

For most small, low-risk businesses just a few important measures are needed.

Construction Health and Safety Consultancy | Safeti

All businesses have to conduct a health and safety risk assessment and have a health and safety policy. UK Health and Safety law says that those with fewer than five employees don’t need to write down their health and safety policy or risk assessment results.

That said, it’s probably wise to do it anyway. 

Health and Safety Guidelines | What You Need to Know

It’s a pretty broad question (just ever so slightly). We could write, and people have done, an encyclopedia on the subject. But we aren’t going to!

We just want to concentrate on introducing you to some of the most important concepts in the world of health and safety. So that you can pick out the bits that are important to you and your business!

Let’s get started….

Are there Risks in your Business?

Workplace Health and Safety UK | Safeti

Some types of business are inherently more dangerous than others. Can you think of any risky ones?

Let’s see….. How about mining? Those involving the handling of explosives and noxious chemicals?

Nuclear power plants maybe?

What about those in which you have to work with heavy machinery or work at height.



Surely those working out at sea are at risk? Etc. etc…..

There are plenty of high risk industries that we can identify. Many of which are strictly controlled when it comes to safety. 

In reality, it’s impossible to run a business without incurring some level of risk.

Managing Risk

Regardless of which industry we are talking about, employers are responsible for the physical safety of employees and anyone else who visits the workplace.

Common sense measures can help significantly to reduce risk. Such as making sure that buildings and equipment are in good repair and adhering to regulations.

It’s why basic health & safety risk assessments are so essential for every organisation. Watch our video from our Risk Assessment Training to learn how to assess risk.

Workplace Health and Safety | Cost or Investment?

The obvious business-related motivation to look after the health, safety and well-being of your employee’s is that it inevitably enhances trust, productivity and loyalty.

Of course, people with health problems are more likely to be absent from work and less productive when in work. They are also much more likely to leave if the company was in some way responsible. 

Here is some data from the HSE’s latest report on workplace injuries for 2020/21…

Health and Safety HSE Statistics 2021

And health problems are extremely common, as shown by the latest government figures:

  • 1 in 4 UK employees have a physical health condition
  • 1 in 8 have a mental health condition
  • 1 in 10 has a musculoskeletal condition
  • 33% of those with a condition say it is long-term
  • 42% of those with a health condition say that it affects their work

Most of the above conditions won’t have been caused in the current working environment. But, it’s important to consider that an employer must not aggravate or significantly worsen any pre-existing illness or injury.

You can find more detail on some of the most recent injury and illness figures on our post on HSE Statistics – these are useful for your internal communications when discussing health and safety with your workforce. 

As you can imagine, these events are much more costly to cure than to prevent. Hence why investing in health and safety of your workforce is often a smart, proactive move.

What about the Health part?

When thinking about your health and safety workplace challenges, it is easy to focus too much in one direction.

Even proactive companies and entire industries are often accused of focusing on ‘safety’ i.e. prevention of accidents, whilst simultaneously neglecting ‘health’ i.e. prevention of work-related illness.

Occupational health has been defined as ‘enabling people to undertake their occupation in the way that causes least harm to their health’.

In real terms, this translates to having a narrow focus towards only the prevention of physical accidents. Whereas in reality, workers are also at risk of illness being caused by prolonged exposure to harmful materials such as dusts, mists or vapours (see COSHH), stress at work etc.

Workplace Health and Safety 2022 | UK Guide 1

Nevertheless, the focus upon employee’s health and well-being in the workplace is becoming increasingly important over time.

With that in mind, it’s important to remember this one thing regarding health. Employer’s in the UK have a responsibility to take reasonable action to ensure the health of their employee’s is not negatively impacted during the course of their work.

Benefits of a Workplace Health and Safety Policy

There are numerous benefits of having strong policies and following good practices in the workplace.

UK law says that every business must have a policy for managing health and safety.

A workplace health and safety policy sets out your general approach to health and safety. It explains how you, as an employer, will manage health and safety in your business. It should clearly say who does what, when and how.

If you have five or more employees, you must write your policy down. If you have fewer than five employees you do not have to write anything down, but it is useful to do so.

Positive outcomes result from employer’s taking ownership of their duty of care for their employees and anyone else who may be on their premises.

Benefit 1 – Protecting your staff

Following health and safety workplace guidelines is primarily to protect employers and their staff from injury, illness or coming into any other form of harm in the workplace.

One of the main benefits of following health and safety practices is to prevent common workplaces injuries & illness such as back pain, falling from height, asthma, injuries from slips and trips and asbestos-related illness.

How Many First Aiders Do I Need | Safeti
Benefit 2 – Reducing absences

Following health and safety workplace guidelines and maintaining a safe work place will reduce the risk of work-related illnesses and injuries, and therefore reduce staff absences.

A stressed out, illness-prone workforce is not an efficient one. It is ultimately an investment in your business.

Employers with low absence rate and staff turnover will save money on the direct and indirect costs of absences and recruitment of replacement staff.

Benefit 3 – Improving productivity

If your colleagues and employees are able to work in a safe environment, this will improve morale and overall productivity.

It is difficult to argue that happy and motivated staff won’t be more productive than those who feel like their well-being is low priority.

Benefit 4 – Saving money

By maintaining health and safety practices in the workplaces, and therefore reducing absences and improving productivity, you will be saving money by retaining staff.

Money spent on absences and recruitment processes will decrease, and the business’ profits will increase.

Principal Contractor Duties | Safeti
Benefit 5 – Protecting the business

The other major reason to pay good attention to your health and safety obligations is that the regulator, the Health and Safety Executive, and the courts have increasing powers to punish individuals and companies who are not taking their obligations seriously.

Now you are aware of the benefits of a strong health and safety policy, listen to the 3 must-do actions when putting together your policy!

Health and Safety at Work Act | Summary

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, often referred to as ‘HASWA’ or simply the ‘Health and Safety Act’, sets out the health and safety law framework for the UK.

The act defines the general duties of everyone from employers (section 2) and employees (section 7,8) to owners, managers and maintainers of work premises(etc) for maintaining health and safety within most workplaces.

There is, however, further specific legislation for business sectors that operate within a higher risk environment. Such as the construction industry, chemical manufacturing, mining etc.

The act itself is a primary piece of legislation set out by the government. Other regulations which compliment the HASWA 1974 are known as statutory instruments (supporting pieces of legislation).

Statutory instruments serve to make small changes,updates or additions to existing legislation. Without having to create an entirely new Bill. 

Check out our rundown of the Health and Safety at Work Act in our podcast….

Health and Safety Act UK | Responsibilities for Employers

Your employer’s duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASWA) is to provide you with a safe and healthy workplace, and this includes:

  • a safe system of work;
  • a safe place of work;
  • safe equipment, plant and machinery;
  • safe and competent people working alongside you, because employers are also liable for the actions of their staff and managers;
  • providing adequate facilities for staff welfare at work.
  • carrying out risk assessments as set out in regulations, and taking steps to eliminate or control these risks;
  • appointing a ‘competent personresponsible for health and safety (competent persons, such as a head of health and safety, oversee day-to-day safety management, oversee safety inspections, and liaise with staff safety reps);
  • consulting with workplace safety representatives (if a union is recognised, your employer must set up and attend a workplace safety committee if two or more safety reps request one); and

We’ve summarised our top 8 H&S responsibilities for employer’s in audio form to make it even easier..

Under the Health and Safety Act, it’s important not to forget that there are also fundamental health and safety responsibilities for employees as well. Let’s take a look at what those Employee’s Responsibilities are in more detail.

Workplace Health and Safety | Responsibilities of Employees

As an employee, you have rights and you have responsibilities for your own well-being and that of your colleagues. 

Your most important responsibilities as an employee are:

  • to take reasonable care of your own health and safety
  • take reasonable care not to put other people – fellow employees and members of the public – at risk by what you do or don’t do in the course of your work
  • co-operate with your employer, making sure you get proper training and you understand and follow the company’s health and safety policies
  • not to interfere with or misuse anything that’s been provided for your health, safety or welfare
  • to report any injuries, strains or illnesses you suffer as a result of doing your job, your employer may need to change the way you work
  • tell your employer if something happens that might affect your ability to work, like becoming pregnant or suffering an injury 
  • if you drive or operate machinery, you have a responsibility to tell your employer if you take medication that makes you drowsy 

Who enforces the Health and Safety Legislation?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the appointed body that is responsible for enforcing in the UK.

However, when it comes to enacting enforcement, this responsibility is divided between the HSE and local authorities.

What exactly is the Health and Safety Executive?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in Great Britain.

In Northern Ireland, this responsibility is with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI).

The HSE was created by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. As part of its work, HSE investigates industrial accidents, small and large, including major incidents. Such as the explosion and fire at Buncefield in 2005.

The HSE’s duties are to:

  • Assist and encourage persons concerned with matters relevant to the operation of the objectives of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • Make arrangements for and encourage research and publication, training, and information in connection with its work
  • Make arrangements to provide an information and advisory service on relevant issues
  • Propose new H and S regulations

Let’s move on to look at some examples of workplace Health and Safety regulation in the UK…..

Health and Safety Regulations | Examples

As previously mentioned, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the key piece of workplace health and safety law for Great Britain.

However, there are other regulations which are designed to keep workplaces healthy and safe. So remember, more specific regulations may also be relevant to you, dependent on your business sector or industry.

Here are a few examples:

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Also known as the ‘Management Regs’, these came into effect in 1993. Main employer duties under the Regulations include:

  • making ‘assessments of risk’ to the health and safety of its workforce, and to act upon risks they identify, so as to reduce them;
  • appointing competent persons to oversee workplace health and safety;
  • providing workers with information and training on occupational health and safety; and
  • operating a written health and safety policy.
haswa health and safety at work act

The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992

These Regulations broadly cover the general welfare of employees. The main provisions require employers to provide:

  • adequate lighting, heating, ventilation and workspace (and keep them in a clean condition);
  • staff facilities, including toilets, washing facilities and refreshment; and
  • safe passageways, i.e. to prevent slipping and tripping hazards.
The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992

The main provisions here apply to display screen equipment (DSE) ‘users’, defined as workers who ‘habitually’ use a computer as a significant part of their normal work.

This includes people who are regular users of DSE equipment, or rely on it as part of their job.

This covers you if you use DSE for an hour or more continuously, and/or you are making daily use of DSE.

DSE Regulations

Employers are required to:

  • make a risk assessment of workstation use by DSE users, and reduce the risks identified;
  • ensure DSE users take ‘adequate breaks’;
  • provide regular eyesight tests;
  • provide health and safety information;
  • provide adjustable furniture (e.g. desk, chair, etc.); and
  • demonstrate that they have adequate procedures designed to reduce

You can stay compliant with use of our fillable self-assessment DSE template.

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Fire Safety Order (2005) requires responsible persons to carry out a fire risk assessment which focuses on the safety in case of fire for all ‘relevant persons’.

Fire safety is only one of many safety issues with which management must concern themselves to minimise the risk of injury or death to staff or the public.

However, it must be recognised that it usually has significant potential to cause harm & destruction within a short timeframe.

Fire Safety Strategy | Safeti

Our Fire Strategy Guide provides you with the key steps to managing fire risk, should you want to dive into the topic further right now!

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992

The main provisions require employers to:

health and safety definitions
  • ensure that suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided free of charge “wherever there are risks to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled in other ways.”
  • The PPE must be ‘suitable’ for the risk in question, and include protective face masks and goggles, safety helmets, gloves, air filters, ear defenders, overalls and protective footwear; and
  • provide information, training and instruction on the use of this equipment.

Manual Handling Regulations 1992

The main provisions of these Regulations require employers to:

  • avoid (so far as is reasonably practicable) the need for employees to undertake any manual handling activities involving risk of injury;

  • make assessments of manual handling risks, and try to reduce the risk of injury. The assessment should consider the task, the load, individual characteristics (physical strength, etc.)
  • reduce the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling to as low as reasonably practicable, including provision of Manual Handling training

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWER) Regulations 1998

The main provisions of PUWER require employers to:

  • ensure the safety and suitability of work equipment for the purpose for which it is provided;
  • properly maintain the equipment, irrespective of how old it is;
  • provide information, instruction and training on the use of equipment; and
  • protect employees from dangerous parts of machinery.
PPE Health and Safety Risk Assessment

You can learn much more about how to meet the obligations of these regulations with our PUWER Regulations Compliance Guide – PUWER applies to almost every workplace environment, with particular importance for industries suchas our Manufacturing customers.

Work at Height Regulations

Falls from height are one of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities and major injuries.

Typically, falls from a height are responsible for ~25% of workplace fatalities in the UK. e.g. 35 of 142 fatalities in 2020/21.

Common causes are falls from ladders and through fragile roofs. The purpose of Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) is to prevent death and injury from a fall from height.

Work at Height Regulations | Safeti

Here are some tips to consider when planning activities that may involve work at height;

  • do as much work as possible from the ground
  • ensure workers can get safely to and from where they work at height
  • ensure equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job
  • make sure you don’t overload or overreach when working at height 
  • take precautions when working on/near fragile surfaces
  • provide protection from falling objects
  • consider emergency evacuation/rescue plan

If you would like to learn in more detail about risk from working at height, head on over to our Work at Height Guide for more helpful information.

There are very few workplace environments where working from height does not apply in some way, either directly or indirectly. For most of our Construction clients, it is one of their most significant risks.

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER)

Lifting equipment includes any equipment used at work for lifting or lowering loads, including attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it.

The LOLER Regs cover a wide range of equipment including, cranes, forklift trucks, lifts, hoists, mobile elevating work platforms, and vehicle inspection platform hoists. The definition also includes lifting accessories such as chains, slings, eyebolts etc.


Lifting operations remain a leading cause of serious injury and fatality in workplaces – find out more about what your responsibilities are as an employer with our LOLER Regulations Guide.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995

Let’s take a look at the RIDDOR regulations as an example of what these pieces of legislation might include;

First off, RIDDOR stands for the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

These Regulations in the UK (United Kingdom) require employers, the self-employed and those in control of premises to report specified workplace incidents

RIDDOR Health and Safety UK

This guidance will help clarify how RIDDOR applies and whether certain types of incident are reportable.

The HSE will pass on reported information about incidents to other regulators, where appropriate.

For b asic information on the requirements of RIDDOR, such as, who should report, how to report and when to report, listen to our podcast and check out our RIDDOR Reporting Guide

As you can probably see by this point, Health and Safety can get complex. It’s important to be confident that you have someone competent working in or on behalf of your business, to keep you on the right track. Let’s take a look at why…

Health and Safety Ireland and UK | Competent Persons

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (GB & NI) and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (Ireland) state that you must get help from a health and safety competent person to enable you to meet the requirements of health and safety law.

A competent person is someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to assist you properly.

The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular help you need.

In many cases, there will be appropriate expertise within the business to cope with it. You should give preference to those in your own organisation who have the adequate level of knowledge and competence (which can include the employer themselves).

That said, sometimes it is more a case of there not being enough resources available to complete the necessary work. If resources are stretched, you will want to consult with health and safety representatives in good time to make arrangements.

If you looking for a competent person, their level of IOSH membership is a helpful indicator of their level of experience. Chartered Members work under the IOSH Code of Conduct, this ensures that the level of competence, work quality and integrity is ensured for your business.

Any consultancy work undertaken by Safeti is always carried out or overseen by an IOSH Chartered (CMIOSH) professional.

Workplace Health and Safety | Support Options

Health and Safety Pro
Monthly Fee
Workplace Health and Safety 2022 | UK Guide 2

Competent Person Service

Dedicated Chartered H&S Advisor

Email/Chat/Phone Support

Custom H&S Document Suite

LMS Training Platform

Onboarding & Improvement Review

Annual Performance Audit

Bespoke Online Induction Training

Branded Online Training Options

Monthly In-Person Support - Flexible

Health and Safety Premium
Monthly Fee
Workplace Health and Safety 2022 | UK Guide 3

Competent Person Service

Dedicated Chartered H&S Advisor

Email/Chat/Phone Support

Custom H&S Document Suite

LMS Training Platform

Onboarding & Improvement Review

Annual Performance Audit

Bespoke Online Induction Training

Branded Online Courses

Monthly In-Person Support - Flexible


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