Everyone is interested in the concept of being safe from physical, psychological and financial harm. Most people are involved in occupational activities, as workers or employers, and spend most of their time engaged in work. So, we are entitled to ask What is Safety and how can we keep safe?
Accidents at work are more common than you may think
In the UK in 2010-11 (HSE):
- 1.2 million working people were suffering from a work-related illness
- 171 workers killed at work
- 115 000 injuries were reported under RIDDOR
- 200 000 reportable injuries (over 3 day absence) occurred (LFS)
- 26.4 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
- Workplace injuries and ill health (excluding cancer) cost society an estimated £14 billion (in 2009/10)
So it is natural that we ask what is safety? and we want, and need, to be protected from exposure to harmful events. Protection can be provided by regulation to control and deter the creation of risks, or by the provision of engineering responses to risks.
See our risk assessment page for more HSE guidance.
Responsibilities of Employers (HSE)
Under the law employers are responsible for health and safety management. The following provides a broad outline of how the law applies to employers. Don’t forget, employees and the self employed have important responsibilities too.
It is an employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business. Employers must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.
This means making sure that workers and others are protected from anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace.
Employers have duties under health and safety law to assess risks in the workplace. Risk assessments should be carried out that address all risks that might cause harm in your workplace.
Employers must give you information about the risks in your workplace and how you are protected, also instruct and train you on how to deal with the risks.
Employers must consult employees on health and safety issues. Consultation must be either direct or through a safety representative that is either elected by the workforce or appointed by a trade union.
For more details on the basics of what employers must do to make their business comply with health and safety law in a low risk business , HSE has produced a booklet Health and safety made simple.
For more details on how health and safety law is meant to work, HSE has produced a booklet: Health and safety regulation: A short guide .
Employers have a legal duty under the Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations (HSIER) to display the approved poster in a prominent position in each workplace or to provide each worker with a copy of the approved leaflet Health and safety law: What you need to know that outlines British health and safety law.
If workers think their employer is exposing them to risks or is not carrying out their legal duties regards to health and safety, and if this has been pointed this out to them but no satisfactory response has been received, workers can make a complaint to HSE.
Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.