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Health and safety at work - an overview

There are a number of key health and safety issues in the working environment employers must be aware of.

Risk assessments

All employers and self-employed people have to assess the risks that their business presents to workers and anybody else.

Employers with five or more employees must record the significant findings of their risk assessment.

Health and safety policy statements

If you employ five or more people, you must have a written health and safety policy. This sets out how you manage health and safety in your organisation. You should use it as a key to achieving good standards and reducing accidents and work-related ill health.

Health and safety poster

The health and safety law poster must be displayed in all business premises. Alternatively, an equivalent leaflet, available as a free download, can be provided to each employee

First aid facilities

Under the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations of 1981, employers must make provision for first aid in their workplaces. This depends on equipment, facilities and personnel, but will include at least;

  • a suitably stocked first aid box
  • an appointed person to take charge of first aid arrangements
  • provision at all times when people are working

Temperatures

The temperature in workrooms must be at least 16°C, unless much of the work involves severe physical effort. In that case, the temperature should be at least 13°C.

There is no set maximum temperature. The Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations of 1992 say that “during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable”.

Employees’ responsibilities

  • you must tell someone if you see something that looks unsafe
  • you must take care of yourself and anyone affected by your work
  • if you’re not sure how to do something safely, don’t do it at all until you have been shown
  • you must use equipment in the proper manner
  • follow your employer’s directions to keep yourself safe at work, including the use of safety equipment and safety clothing

Information for employees

Your employer must tell you:

  • if there are any dangerous aspects to your job
  • how to do your job safely
  • what measures are in place to protect your health and safety
  • how to get first aid treatment
  • what to do in an emergency

Resting

Employers are obliged to provide suitable and sufficient facilities in readily accessible places, where employees can rest and eat meals. Adequate toilets should also be provided.

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