Workplace Health Safety and Welfare: How to Guide for Employers

Home ADVICE & GUIDANCE Workplace Health Safety and Welfare: How to Guide for Employers
Workplace Health Safety and Welfare How to Guide for Employers

In the UK, it is a legal requirement for all employers to ensure the basic workplace welfare needs of all employees are met by providing basic welfare facilities at work, fixtures and equipment that are safe and appropriately maintained, monitored, and inspected, whilst similarly meeting all relevant health and safety provisions.

Legal Requirements and Definitions:

Workplace welfare obligations are enforced by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which covers a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues and apply to most workplaces.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 defines a ‘workplace’ as being any premises or part of premises which are not domestic premises and are made available to any person as a place of work. Premises will also include any workplaces that are located out of doors.

Where aspects of the working environment are poor, the workplace can become hazardous to the health of employees working in it. When describing workplace welfare features, accessible means that everyone at work can use them without delay.

Workplace Risk Assessments must be undertaken to identify locations/areas where any deficiencies in workplace welfare provision could increase the likelihood of an accident or an ill health occurrence. Regular workplace inspections must also be undertaken to support risk assessments in terms of the identification of workplace hazards and areas where workplace welfare issues are likely to occur.

16 ‘Musts’ for Better Workplace Welfare: What Employers Need to Do

1) Potable Drinking Water

All workplaces must have an adequate supply of potable drinking water. Potable drinking water facilities must be regularly maintained and kept clean to ensure potable water quality and hygiene.

2) Sufficient Lighting

All workplaces must have sufficient lighting to enable people to move about the premises and work safely. Where possible, lighting should be provided from natural sources. Localised lighting must be provided at specific locations or during activities presenting particular risks.

Workplace Health Safety and Welfare How to Guide for Employers

3) Lighting Hazards

Lighting and light fittings must not create additional hazards or contribute to any identified risks. A process to ensure that windows and skylights are cleaned must be implemented to maximise natural lighting in the workplace.

Automatic emergency lighting, powered by an independent source, must be provided where sudden loss of light would create a foreseeable risk.

4) Temperature Control

The temperature in all workplaces during working hours must be reasonable for the nature of that workplace, the work activities undertaken and the physical activity of the persons carrying out the work.

Where temperatures are uncomfortably high (or low) and may adversely impact the thermal comfort of building occupants or the health & safety of those undertaking specific tasks, steps must be taken to maintain a reasonable temperature and/or implement appropriate control measures.

5) Ventilation

Workplaces must be adequately ventilated by either natural ventilation or, where necessary, mechanical ventilation. Mechanical ventilation systems must be regularly maintained and kept clean. Any ventilation equipment must have a device that gives visible or audible warning of failure where necessary for health and safety.

6) Storage Safety

All workplaces must use storage facilities of adequate strength and stability for the loads being placed on them. Materials and objects must be stored and stacked in such a way that they are not likely to fall and cause injury.

Any storage on site must not obstruct fire safety equipment or designated fire exit routes. All workplace storage facilities must undergo regular inspections in order to identify damage and implement necessary corrective actions. Maximum safe weight limits must be prominently displayed on all storage solutions featuring heavy loads or palletised items, which are moved via mechanical means.

Workplace Health Safety and Welfare How to Guide for Employers

7) Traffic Routes

There must be sufficient traffic routes of sufficient width and headroom to allow people to circulate safely and with ease. Floors and traffic routes must be sound and strong enough for the loads placed on them and the traffic expected to use them. Floors and traffic routes must be kept free of obstructions that may present a hazard or impede access.

8) Safety of Windows and Transparent Surfaces

Windows, transparent or translucent surfaces in walls, partitions, doors, and gates must be made of safety material or be adequately protected against breakage. If there is a risk of people coming into contact with glazed panels, doors, or windows, they must be clearly marked or incorporate features to make them apparent (manifestations). Windows that open must have the limit of opening restricted to prevent falls from height or from creating any hazard external to the building.

9) Cleaning and Waste Removal

Cleaning and the removal of waste must be carried out at a suitable frequency, ensuring that the workplace, furnishings, and fittings are kept clean. Waste should be segregated and stored in suitable receptacles pending consolidation and ultimately, disposal off-site.

Workplace Health Safety and Welfare How to Guide for Employers

10) Slip and Trip Prevention

Where persons are required to circulate in areas where the floor has the potential to become slippery, appropriate footwear must be used/provided. Regular inspection must be carried out to identify slip and trip hazards.

11) Sanitary Conveniences

Basic welfare facilities at work must include sufficient sanitary conveniences must be provided for all people who use the building, including disabled people, at readily accessible places. The number of sanitary conveniences will be dependent on the number of people likely to be on-site during routine operations at any one time.

12) Washing Facilities

Washing facilities must be provided at readily accessible places. Showers or baths must be provided if working activities are dirty or strenuous or could result in the skin being contaminated by hazardous materials. Washing facilities must have running hot and cold or warm water, soap and clean towels or other means of cleaning or drying. Wherever possible, separate facilities should be provided for men and women to ensure the user’s privacy.

13) Facilities at Remote Sites

Wherever practical, workplace welfare facilities must be provided at remote and temporary work sites, including flushing toilets and running water wherever possible. Where there is no running water or nearby sewer, enough water must be stored and provided for washing, and chemical toilets should be provided. Rooms containing a sanitary convenience must not link directly with a room where food is processed, prepared, or eaten.

Workplace Health Safety and Welfare How to Guide for Employers

14) Clothing Accommodation

Adequate, suitable, and secure accommodation must be provided for the employee’s own clothing and for separate storage of any contaminated clothing, including PPE.

15) Rest Facilities

Sufficient, readily accessible rest facilities must be provided for all employees to take breaks. Rest areas or rooms must be large enough for all the persons likely to use them at any one time.

16) Smoking Areas

Smoking areas in the workplace must be sited far enough away from work areas and non-smoking rest areas to prevent fumes from entering the workplace.

Health and safety support for workplace welfare with Avensure

Employers are legally obligated to provide reasonable basic welfare facilities at work for their employees. In the UK, this includes sanitary conveniences, washing facilities, drinking water, and rest facilities that are suitable and adequate. Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to HSE enforcement action, employee compensation claims, and even criminal prosecution.

At Avensure, we understand the importance of ensuring that your business is compliant with these legal liabilities. Our dedicated team can offer the guidance you need to manage and comprehend your employer’s obligations related to the provision of welfare facilities, policies, and procedures.

Get in touch with our friendly team today for support in this area. To learn more, visit Avensure Contact!