Health and safety can be a legal minefield and the consequences of failing to adhere to legislation can carry hefty fines and even prison sentences.

Our experts deal with all sorts of issues every week. Based on this we have complied our top health and safety FAQs.

What is a “responsible person” in relation to a workplace?

A “responsible person” is accountable for ensuring and maintaining correct health and safety, including fire safety and procedures. In most circumstances this is the owner, employer or occupier of the premises.

Do I require a written health and safety policy?

If you have over five staff, having a health and safety policy is a legal requirement under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 Section 2. It is specific regarding the information that should be included, namely three sections:

  • The statement of general policy on health and safety at work. This sets out your commitment to managing health and safety effectively, and what you want to achieve.
  • The responsibility section.This defines who is responsible for specific actions.
  • The arrangements section. This contains the detail of what you are going to do in practice to achieve the aims set out in your statement of health and safety policy.

How do I report an accident at work?

Under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations), if you are an employer, self-employed, or in control of work premises, some work-related accidents, dangerous occurrences and diseases/conditions must be reported to your enforcing authority. Deaths, major injuries, or injuries which result in a member of the public being taken to hospital from the workplace must be reported without delay. Other injuries and certain diseases or conditions which result in more than seven days off work are also reportable.

Is there a maximum or minimum working temperature?

There are no legal maximum or minimum temperatures, however guidance suggests a minimum of 16 degrees C or 13 degrees C if employees are involved in rigorous physical work.

There is no meaningful maximum due to the high temperature associated with industries such as foundries, kitchens etc.

How many first aiders do I need?

There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers. This would typically be established by a First Aid Needs Assessment. For low level hazard sites e.g. offices and retail, the minimum provision is for an appointed person to simply take care of first aid arrangements and a stocked first aid kit.

For higher level hazards, for example, heavy machinery, use of chemicals or confined spaces, the provision of a first aiders and additional first aid equipment should be considered. Again, variables such as number and experience of employees along with building layout will be factors to consider.

Do employers have to provide personal protective equipment?

According to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. Every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.

Employers should, therefore, provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and training in its usage to their employees wherever there is a risk to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled by other means.

In order to provide PPE for their employees, employers must do more than simply have the equipment on the premises. The employees must have the equipment readily available, or at the very least have clear instructions on where they can obtain it.

Does health and safety legislation apply to volunteers working for charities?

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) and the regulations made under it apply if any organisation (including a voluntary organisation) has at least one employee.

The HSW Act sets out the general duties that employers have towards employees. It also requires employers and the self-employed to protect people other than those at work (e.g. members of the public, volunteers, clients and customers) from risks to their health and safety arising out of, or in connection with, their work activities.

Do I have to provide Display Screen Assessments for staff?

As an employer, you must protect your workers from the health risks of working with display screen equipment (DSE), such as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations apply to workers who use DSE daily, for an hour or more at a time. We describe these workers as ‘DSE users’. The regulations don’t apply to workers who use DSE infrequently or only use it for a short time.

Employers must:

  • Do a DSE workstation assessment
  • Reduce risks, including making sure workers take breaks from DSE work or do something different
  • Provide an eye test if a worker asks for one
  • Provide training and information for workers

If you would like more information on any of these topics, or another H&S issue, please contact us on 0345 076 2288 to enquire about our H&S support packages.