Health and safety obligations for employers

Poor health and safety can leads to illness and accidents, and significant costs for your business. 

Employers who take their responsibilities seriously and follow the correct health and safety procedures improve the productivity of their businesses and increase their reputation with their customers, regulators and their own employees.

Every working day, there are on average two deaths and 690 reported non-fatal injuries to employees. Absenteeism costs employers £13 billion a year and small companies, where the absence of one or two employees can make a huge difference, are the hardest hit. 

With the cost of absenteeism rising, insurers are becoming more averse to granting employer's liability insurance to companies with a poor, or no, health and safety record. Many companies, therefore, are being forced out of business, unable to trade without insurance cover or because of soaring premiums.

It's in the best interest of employers to adhere to their health and safety responsibilities, but, be warned, the law is extremely strict, so you must follow the health and safety regulations precisely. If you don't, you could find yourself being targeted by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation.

In a nutshell, here is an outline of how you, as an employer, can meet your health and safety responsibilities and adhere to the Health and Safety at Work Act:

1.  Carry out a risk assessment

Identify hazards in the workplace and evaluate the extent of the health and safety risks to your employees. Then, take appropriate action. Employers must also carry out a further assessment in the workplace after an accident has occurred.

Lawpack's Fire Risk Assessment Kit can help you comply with fire safety regulations.

2.  Record your health and safety arrangements

Plan, organise, control and monitor health and safety in the workplace, and undertake a review of the 'protective and preventative measures' in place. Employers should appoint a competent assistant (or more than one, if it's necessary) to help with their health and safety responsibilities.

3.  Employ competent people

Employers must not employ children of under school-leaving age in the workplace, unless their employment is part of an authorised scheme.

4.  Arrange contacts with external services

Have numbers of first aid assistance and emergency medical care for when injuries arise.

5.  Provide comprehensive health and safety information to all your employees

Employers should also include any temporary employees. Inform them of the health and safety risks (which were identified by the risk assessments you've made) in the workplace, the preventative and protective measures in place and tell them the name of your competent assistant. Be aware of communication issues such as language differences.

Lawpack's Health and Safety Policy template can help you create a health and safety policy for your business.

6.  Make health and safety arrangements for the employees of other companies on site

Employers must provide appropriate instructions and information on health and safety.

7.  Provide health and safety training

Train employees in health and safety on induction, or upon their transfer to a new job or area, or when new equipment is introduced into the workplace. Employers must keep training records as evidence of this.

8.  Ensure that your employees notify you of any health and safety shortcomings in the workplace

9.  Investigate an accident

If an accident occurs in the workplace, record the findings of your investigation.

10. Keep records

Log all the above action you have taken.


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Published on: June 2, 2008

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