All employers have a common-law duty of care to their employees. In addition, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) every employer has a duty to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees are protected. They must also conduct a risk assessment to identify the measures necessary to comply with the Act and other regulations.
The matters to which this duty extends include:
- plant and systems of work;
- use, handling, storage and transportation of articles and substances;
- provision of information, instruction, training and supervision necessary for the health and safety of employees;
- maintenance of the place of work, including access and exit, in a safe condition;
- mental health (including workplace stress); and
- provision and maintenance of a safe working environment with adequate facilities.
All employers with five or more employees must have a written health and safety policy, which must be brought to the notice of all employees.
HASAWA provides for the appointment of safety representatives (where there is a recognised trade union) or representatives of employee safety (where there is no recognised union). Also, where reps request it, the Act provides for the setting up of a safety committee.
There is a further duty on the employer to ensure that the health and safety of persons other than employees who use the premises are protected.