As an employee, what legal duties are placed on me in respect of health and safety?

You have a common-law duty of care as an employee. This means that you must exercise reasonable skill and care in your relationship with your employer and colleagues.

In addition, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) requires you to take reasonable care for the health and safety of yourself and other people at work. This extends to co-operating to enable the employer to fulfil its legal duty.

You must not interfere with or obstruct anything provided in the interests of health and safety at work.

An employee who is in breach of his or her duties under HASAWA may be liable to pay a fine on conviction. He or she may also be dismissed from employment for being in breach of a contractual duty to carry out work with proper care and skill – provided the employee was properly instructed about relevant safety measures and had been made aware that the interference could lead to dismissal.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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