Employers’ Health & Safety Responsibilities

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HS Responsibilities

As an employer, you are held accountable for the health and safety of everyone affected by your business.

This doesn’t just mean your staff, but anyone who is on or around your premises and anyone affected by goods or services you sell – so it includes visitors, consumers and potentially other members of the public.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, every employer has a duty to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees are protected. A breach of this duty of care, by either the employer or the employee could result in a civil case, or a criminal prosecution by the HSE inspector. As the Health and Safety at Work Act is written in general terms only, the more detailed specific requirements are explained detailed in various other regulations, which are approved by Parliament and have the force of law.

Some of the most frequently used regulations are as follows:

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992

  • The management regulations require every employer to make a suitable and sufficient assessment
  • Firstly, of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed while at work
  • Secondly of the risks to the health and safety of persons not in their employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by them.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

  • These regulations address common factors in workplace accidents such as the maintenance of the workplace, ventilation, the temperature of indoor workplaces, lighting, cleaning and waste materials, room dimensions and space, and the condition of floors and traffic routes.
  • Floors and traffic routes should have no holes, slopes or be uneven or slippery, and must have effective means of drainage where necessary. They must also be free from obstructions.
  • The workplace regulations also cover falls or falling objects, washing facilities, escalators and doors and gates.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 as amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002.

  • The regulations specify that so far as is reasonably practicable, each employer must avoid the need for his employees to undertake any manual handling operations at work which involve a risk of their being injured. Where it is not reasonably practicable to avoid the need for manual handling, a suitable risk assessment must be carried out of all manual handling operations
  • The risk assessment in question must take into account the nature of the task, and the nature of the load being handled, the working environment and also the capabilities of the individual.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998

  • These specify that work equipment must be suitable, maintained in an efficient state, in inefficient working order and in good repair, that proper information, instructions and training are provided to employees, and that there is protection against specified risks to health and safety.
  • Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
  • These regulations state that every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to employees who may be exposed to risk to their health and safety while at work
  • Such personal protective equipment that is provided must be assessed as being suitable and must be properly maintained. The employer must also take all reasonable steps to ensure that any personal protective equipment provided to employees is properly used
  • All employers employing five or more employees must also have a written health and safety policy, which must be brought to the notice of all employees
  • The employer must also ensure that the health and safety of persons other than employees who use the premises are protected.

What special situations should you be aware of?

Some people are additionally protected under health and safety law, and you need to take additional steps when taking their needs into account.

Firstly, your health and safety (especially fire) arrangements need to take people with disabilities into account and work out how you can accommodate them in emergency situations. For example, you need to consider whether your building has step-free access in the event of a fire.

You need to take special considerations into account when having young people (under 18-year-old) on site. For example, taking someone on for work experience – more information can be found here.

You also need to carry out another risk assessment if you are dealing with pregnant women in order to avoid exposing them or their child to unnecessary danger

Some businesses associated with particular hazards, such as construction or chemical engineering, face extra regulation from HSE.

Remember that accountability stops with you and the other directors of your company when it comes to liability for health and safety breaches, so getting things right is essential. The Avensure Health & Safety team are happy to talk you through the health and safety procedures businesses need to have in place and how to start the process, so please contact us if you want to discuss your health and safety needs in more detail.

Please quote your Client Account Number on all correspondence and telephone calls. 24-hour client advice line: 0800 151 2935


Contracts manager who forged risk assessment after fatal fall jailed

A contracts manager who falsified the signature on a risk assessment of a roofer who was killed when they fell through a fragile roof.

After pleading guilty to failing to take reasonable care of other persons, pursuant to section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, contrary to section 33(1)(a). The Manager also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

The case related to an accident when an employee of the company, fell through a fragile roof on which they were working, to the floor below, sustaining fatal head injuries.

The contracts manager was responsible for the safety of their employees.

The police and the HSE investigated the death and found fundamental breaches of duty on the part of the company and also of a second company involved in the work.

The investigation found that practical steps, including providing netting, which the contracts manager insisted was not needed, could have been taken to make workers safer. Experts in the field assessed the site after the fall and advised that netting was necessary. Another expert in the field stated that it was not difficult to net and if it had been installed, would have caught the employee. Experts told investigators that netting would have cost approximately £1,250 to install.

During the investigation, the police examined the manager’s computer and found that they had altered the records in order to mislead the investigation. They presented a risk assessment document containing the employee’s forged signature.

The company was fined £100,000 and were also ordered to pay £30,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to Section 2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The second company have been fined £12,000 and were also ordered to pay £33,000 in prosecution costs after being found guilty of Regulation 15(2) Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 following a trial.