Home Business Insights & Advice Who is responsible for workplace health and safety?

Who is responsible for workplace health and safety?

by John Saunders
3rd Dec 21 2:25 pm

UK health and safety legislation outlines the responsibilities of individuals and organisations to create safe and secure workplaces across the country. Every employee has the right to work in a comfortable and safe work environment, where relevant risk factors are controlled and mitigated appropriately. Employers are primarily responsible to provide the means for this legality. But does responsibility lie on the employer alone? Or do employees have a role to play in workplace health and safety? Let’s explore this fundamental question further.

Employer’s responsibilities

Employers are the party primarily responsible for managing the health, safety and wellbeing of workers whilst at work. Businesses and their leaders have a statutory duty of care to protect employees from various workplace hazards, risks and events. This includes undertaking necessary risk assessments, putting precautionary measures in place to mitigate workplace hazards and providing the necessary protective clothing, safety equipment and training. Failure to take these steps can lead to serious harm or injury to workers or members of the public, and legal implications that could threaten the business tremendously.

In the event of an incident at work causing injury or illness to an employee, the employer has a legal duty to follow accident at work procedures – which will usually involve recording events in an accident book and taking further measures if necessary. The party at fault will usually be identified at this stage, otherwise it can lead to serious legal implications between the employer and employee down the line.

Employee’s responsibilities

So, an employee isn’t responsible at all? Not entirely. Employees have a duty of care too – both to themselves and their colleagues. Furthermore, this duty of care extends to anyone who may be impacted by their work or their actions at work. Employees are responsible for maintaining a safe and secure work environment, which can include both physical and emotional elements.

Employers are legally required to provide safety equipment and install precautionary measures to mitigate the risks of hazards at work, but employees need to use these measures and equipment properly to reduce the risk of harm to themselves, colleagues or members of the public.

What about workplace culture?

Safety culture is an important feature of workplace health and wellbeing. This relies on input and commitment from both the employer and employees, creating an effective safety culture that benefits all involved. Employers need to lay the foundation for health and safety with policies, measures and procedures, but perhaps equally as significantly, employees need to follow and commit to these.

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