Health and safety at work: responsibilities of employers and workers

All workers are entitled to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Under health and safety law, the primary responsibility for this is down to employers.

To take responsibility and ‘ownership’ of health and safety, employers must ensure that:

  • health and safety arrangements are adequately resourced;
  • they obtain competent health and safety advice;
  • risk assessments are carried out;
  • employees or their representatives are involved in decisions that affect their health and safety.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations) generally make it more explicit what employers are required to do to manage health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Like the Act, they apply to every work activity.
The main requirement on employers is to carry out a risk assessment. Moreover, employers with five or more employees need to record the significant findings of the risk assessment.
Risk assessments should be straightforward in a simple workplace such as a typical office. It should only be complicated if it deals with serious hazards such as those on a nuclear power station, a chemical plant, laboratory or an oil rig.
Besides carrying out a risk assessment, employers also need to:

  • make arrangements for implementing the health and safety measures identified as necessary by the risk assessment;
  • appoint competent people (often themselves or company colleagues) to help them to implement the arrangements;
  • set up emergency procedures;
  • provide clear information and training to employees;
  • work together with other employers sharing the same workplace.

However, workers have a duty to take care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by your actions at work. Workers must co-operate with employers and co-workers to help everyone meet their legal requirements.

As a worker, if you have specific queries or concerns relating to health and safety in your workplace, talk to your employer, manager/supervisor or a health and safety representative.
If you still don’t know what a risk assessment form is then MyTeamSafe is happy to help you. You can find a clear and simple risk assessment form here:


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