Health & Safety at Work Act
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- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA) places general duties and responsibilities on all people at work, including employers, employees and the self-employed.
- Your are responsible for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all your employees at work plus anyone else who could be affected by your work activities, e.g., guests, casual workers, contractors.
- Your employees also have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety.
- If you employ more than five people you must have a written health and safety policy.
- You must carry out a risk assessment to identify and manage any risks.
Your responsibilities as an employer to employees and others
The Health and Safety at Work Act etc.1974 (HSWA) sets the framework for health and safety regulations in the workplace. The Act places general duties and responsibilities on all people at work, including employers, employees and the self-employed. There are two important responsibilities for an employer:
- You are responsible for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all your employees at work (your employees also have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own health and safety).
- You have a wider responsibility to ensure, again so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of other people who are affected by your business, for example guests, their children and visitors, a casual worker or a contractor.
All the health and safety legislation covered in this service relates to employers, employees, the self-employed and the workplace. The provisions do not normally apply to self-catering accommodation owners unless they have employees working on their premises, e.g., doing cleaning or maintenance work. If you have an employee, the legislation is applicable whether or not that employee is at work, and whether or not the employee works at the premises concerned. In other words, if you employ anyone at all, you are an employer, and you must comply with the Act in the management of your whole business.
Health and safety law seldom prescribes specific rules for you to follow. Far more often it requires you to manage safety for yourself, and there are severe penalties for not doing so, which, since January 2009, include the possibility of a jail sentence. It is mandatory that you devote time and careful attention to the management of safety in your business; this is at the heart of the law and you cannot fulfil your legal duties by form-filling or cursory treatment of the topic.
Additional health and safety legislation
Other health and safety legislation supplements the HSWA's general responsibilities with specific requirements. The key regulations are covered in this service publication - see the following sections:
- Fire safety (general)
- Fire safety of furniture and furnishings
- Safety management
- Hazards in the workplace
- Hazards from work activities
- Swimming, gym and outdoor safety
Policy statement and risk assessment
If you employ five or more people, you must have a written health and safety policy that includes the arrangements for management of safety in your business.
Your health and safety arrangements will come from doing a risk assessment to identify any risks and then making decisions on how to manage such risks, so far as is reasonably practicable, to comply with health and safety law.
If you employ five or more employees, you must record:
- the significant findings of the assessment
- any group of employees identified by it as being especially at risk.
Even if you do not employ five people, it is still good practice to make a written record of your assessment. If you do not, it may later be difficult to demonstrate that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment has been carried out.
For information about how to do a risk assessment see the 'Safety management' section.
Health and safety notices
You are required to display the Health and Safety Law poster if you employ anyone.
Alternatively you can provide your employees with individual copies of the same information in a leaflet entitled Your Health, Your Safety - A Guide for Workers.
Local Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) are responsible for enforcing health and safety in hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, holiday homes and caravan sites.
Basic health & safety for your business
This HSE toolkit can help you write a health & safety policy, control risks and provide the right facilities.
How to control risks at work
This HSE online toolbox can help you to control risks in the workplace, including electrical safety and workplace transport.
Contact your local authority
Contact the environmental health department of your local authority for further assistance.