Safety management

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Key facts

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 place general duties and responsibilities on all employers at work.
  • Employers must carry out a 'suitable and sufficient' assessment of the health and safety risks to employees and others arising out of work activities.
  • If you have five or more employees, you must keep a record of any significant findings of the assessment and your health and safety arrangements.
  • Employers, the self-employed and those in control of work premises must report certain work-related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences.
  • Employers must provide first aid equipment and facilities appropriate to the circumstances in the workplace.

Main provisions of the regulations

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 follow on from the general responsibilities outlined in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, by covering in more detail how an employer should manage health and safety at work in order to avoid accidents and ill-health.

Risk assessment is the key to effective management of health and safety and is a legal requirement. The main requirements relating to an accommodation employer are as follows:

Carry out a risk assessment

Employers must carry out a 'suitable and sufficient' assessment of the health and safety risks to employees at work, and any other people, arising out of work activities. The assessment allows you to identify any extra measures that you need to take.

Doing a risk assessment

A risk assessment is nothing more than a careful examination of what, on your premises, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm. You also have to do a risk assessment for fire safety (see the 'Fire safety (general)' section), and it is acceptable to combine the fire risk assessment into the general one. There are five basic steps:

Step 1: Look for the hazards, i.e. anything that can cause harm. For most accommodation premises the hazards are few and simple but assessing them thoroughly is a necessity. You probably know already if, for example, you have steps that are awkward or kitchen furniture that is unstable. Always consider electricity, gas, carbon monoxide poisoning and falls especially carefully, as these are potential causes of serious injury or even death. Do not neglect the garden or grounds.

Step 2: Decide who may be harmed and how, including those especially at risk (see the section below).

Step 3: Evaluate the risks - consider in particular:

  • how likely a mishap is to happen, and
  • how serious the consequences might be. The more likely and the more serious the potential accident, the higher the risk and the more you need to do to prevent it. Decide whether the existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done. The test of whether you should do more is whether it is 'reasonably practicable' (see section below) to carry out the possible additional measure.

Step 4: Record your findings.

Step 5: Review your assessment and revise it if necessary.

You don't need to overcomplicate the process. Check that you have taken the precautions you can to avoid injury. You can probably do the assessment yourself. If you get stuck you can contact your local environmental health officer for further advice, although they cannot do the assessment for you.

Consider those especially at risk

You must take into consideration visitors and members of the public who might be affected by your work. You also need to give special consideration to:

  • workers who are young
  • workers who are inexperienced or new to a particular job
  • trainees doing work experience
  • disabled workers
  • guests who are children, elderly, or disabled.

Members of staff at special risk

If you have members of staff at special risk, any risk assessment and health and safety arrangements need to deal specifically with them.

  • Disabled staff: if you have disabled staff you must make sure you undertake a risk assessment that takes into account their impairment and, as well as undertaking any adjustments, ensure that you have systems and emergency procedures in place that do not expose them to undue risk. 
  • Staff with poor English: if you have staff whose first language is not English, you must make sure they understand, for example, all the preventative health and safety measures, signs and emergency procedures.
  • Young people: there are special requirements covering young people (under the age of 18), which require employers to do a specific risk assessment and give specific information to the young person and their parents or guardians (see the Employing Under 18s section).
  • New and expectant mothers: again, there are special requirements and considerations that are explained in the HSE guide New and Expectant Mothers who Work.

Reasonably practicable

This is a balance between the cost and inconvenience of undertaking actions to reduce risk and the benefits of improved safety.

For example, if the cost of repairing a loose carpet is small, and the risk of tripping or falling down stairs is high, then you must make the repair. At the other extreme if the removal of an awkward step would involve rebuilding part of the house, and the consequences of any foreseeable trip are minor, it wouldn't be reasonably practicable to do it (although, of course, warnings might well be needed).

Health and safety arrangements

You must put into place any extra measures identified in the assessment, along with arrangements for:

  • organising health and safety in the workplace
  • ensuring safety procedures are followed
  • reviewing and updating the measures and procedures.

Health surveillance

Health surveillance is a system of ongoing health checks which are required if you have employees who are exposed to noise or vibration, ionising radiation, solvents, fumes, dusts, biological agents and other hazardous substances. If you have employees who are exposed to hazardous substances, you must provide health surveillance, appropriate to the risks identified in the assessment.

Competent person

Employers must appoint a competent person, preferably a member of staff with the necessary training or experience, to assist in health and safety matters.


If you have five or more employees, you must keep a record of:

  • any 'significant findings' of your assessment
  • your health and safety arrangements (best included in your overall 'health and safety policy statement' - a template form for you to use is available on the HSE website

Even if you have fewer than five employees, it is still sensible to keep a record. This will give you increased protection if there is an accident.

Emergency procedures

Employers must draw up procedures for dealing with emergencies and establishing contact with the emergency services (such as fire and medical care).

Information, instruction and training

You must give your employees information on the risks, the preventative measures and the emergency procedures so they can understand them.

You need to consult with your employees on these and any other key health and safety issues.

You also need to make sure that when a new employee starts you give them sufficient health and safety training so that they can go about their work safely. For example, if you have a new cleaner starting, you need to explain how to use all the different cleaning agents safely.

The staff training needs to be repeated or updated as appropriate; it should take place during working hours and must not be paid for by employees.

Agency workers

If you hire agency workers, you must tell the employment agency about:

  • risks to the worker's health and safety and steps you have taken to control them
  • any necessary legal or professional qualifications or skills
  • any necessary health surveillance.

Temporary staff

Employers must give temporary staff information, before they start, on any special qualifications or skills required to do the work safely, and any health surveillance you are required to provide.

Employees' duties

Employees have a duty to follow health and safety instructions and to report dangers.

Accident reporting

If you are an employer, self-employed or in control of work premises, you are required by law to report certain work-related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences. Details of the types of accidents that you need to report can be found at the RIDDOR website

All incidents can be reported online but a telephone service remains for reporting fatal and major injuries only - call the Incident Contact Centre on 0845 300 9923.

You will be sent a copy of the final report for your own records - this meets your statutory obligation to keep records of all reportable incidents for inspection and also allows you to correct any error or omission.

First aid

Employers must provide first-aid equipment and facilities appropriate to the circumstances in the workplace. The minimum would be a suitably stocked first-aid box and a person appointed to take charge of first-aid arrangements.

First-aid provision should be part of your risk assessment process under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (see Carry out a risk assessment section above).

You have no responsibility for administering first aid to guests or the public at large, although you should be familiar with local medical facilities.

Other regulations

Other health and safety legislation supplements these general responsibilities with specific requirements. The key regulations are covered in this service – see the following sections: