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A health & safety policy

A health & safety policy

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Your legal responsibility

As an employer, you must ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, the health, safety and welfare of your workforce.

Your workforce must also take reasonable care of their own and their fellow employees' health and safety. They must cooperate with you to help you fulfil your legal duties.

What law applies?

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
  • The Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978

Who the regulations apply to

These regulations apply to all types of work.

However, if some of your employees work somewhere that you don't control, you have no duty under these regulations. However, you should still (as part of your general legal duties) take any steps necessary to ensure these employees have access to sanitary conveniences and washing facilities. It may be necessary to arrange for them to use facilities already provided on the site, or to provide temporary facilities.

Employer's duties

The law requires that:

  • All employers and self-employed people must assess risks at work (The 5-step approach to risk assessments)
  • Employers with 5 or more employees must have a written health and safety policy (Creating a health and safety policy)
  • Employers with 5 or more employees must record the significant findings of their risk assessment
  • All employers must involve their employees or their employees' safety representatives or trade union on health and safety matters
  • All employers must give free health and safety training or protective equipment for employees where necessary

Some employees who are self-employed, e.g. for tax purposes, are classed as employed under health and safety law.

It's also important to have a clear policy in place to deal with people other than employees, including members of the public. This applies to any person visiting the workplace who has less knowledge of potential hazards.

The 'Fee for Intervention' scheme (not applicable in Northern Ireland)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) charges businesses that are found guilty of breaching health and safety laws. This scheme is called the 'Fee for Intervention'. The costs are based on the amount of time the HSE inspector spent identifying the breach, helping to put it right and taking enforcement action.

See Fee for Intervention on the HSE website for more information.

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