What are your health and safety obligations in the workplace?

by Sarah Ashcroft

Failure to excel in health and safety in the workplace has the potential to land a company in trouble, so it should remain a priority for every boss in the country.

Health and safety law

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is the main piece of legislation in the UK that covers the subject and any business that fails to adhere to its rules and regulations can find themselves facing prosecution and substantial penalties.

Fire safety

All manner of issues are covered within the legislation, such as fire safety. Any person who is an employer or property owner has a responsibility to meet certain fire regulations, which means carrying out thorough assessments on a regular basis.


Bosses must also tell staff about the risks they have identified and put measures in place to deal with them. Planning for an emergency is key, as one could occur at any time and being able to overcome any threat is a must.

Heavy machinery

Agriculture is one of the areas in which many accidents occur, but any company that operates heavy machinery can, in fact, be in danger, so following the government's guidelines is a must.

Carrying out risk assessments and setting standards that must be reached by staff at all times is a good starting point, while completing regular inspections of machinery will also help to keep it in working order.

Workplace temperature

It's not all about serious injuries and potentially disastrous occurrences though, as even fairly basic issues are covered by legislation and the government demands that these are followed. 

For example, employers should make sure that their workplace is of the correct temperature for employees, with a minimum of 16 degrees C (or 13 degrees C where manual work is being completed) advised.


On a similar level, noise at work levels must also be controlled so that employees are not forced to operate in conditions that could damage their hearing in the long run.

A general duty of care exists at all times so employers must always be thinking about how they could be reasonably expected to protect their workforce, explains the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.


Tackling risks at their source should also be a key consideration. Rather than reacting to an accident - which could land a company in trouble if it hasn't acted upon health and safety requirements placed on it - the smartest and most considerate organisations will detect potential problems long before they manifest themselves and take adequate precautions.


While plenty of attention is sure to be placed on putting measures in place that can prevent accidents and injuries, it's wise to invest in training and supervision as these can have a similar effect.


Companies should promote a feeling of cooperation between staff. After all, people working well together and acting to keep each other safe can help to ensure that this is a reality.

Hazardous materials

Another area to watch out for is hazardous materials, and any company that works with these - whether it's dust, fumes, radiation or toxic substances - should make sure that they are controlled at all times.ADNFCR-1645-ID-801685715-ADNFCR

More information

For more information on the health and safety requirements employers must comply with, read Lawpack's Health and Safety at Work Essentials. Written by an expert in the law, it's the one-stop guide for all you need to know.

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Published on: January 23, 2014

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