Frequently asked questions about Health and Safety

Some common questions surrounding all online Health and Safety Training

FAQ About Health & Safety

Health & Safety can be a bit bewildering sometimes. If you are not sure that you know all you need to know to make your workplace safe, we have put together a few brief questions and answers to help you with the basic requirements that any business will need consider in order to manage Health & Safety effectively. Do Health & Safety laws apply to me?

They apply to all businesses, however small, to the self-employed and also employees.

Health & Safety laws, Who administers and enforces them?
There are two different “Enforcing Authorities” depending on the type of business you operate. Environmental Health Officers, (EHO), from the Council will in general deal with offices, shops, hotels, catering, and leisure activities in the Borough. The Health & Safety Executive, (HSE), will cover activities such as factories, farms and building sites.

Health & Safety Inspectors, what do they do?
They give guidance to help you provide a safe workplace for your employees and comply with the law. They visit businesses to carry out inspections and provide specific advice for your workplace. If however on the rare occasion we find that something is seriously wrong they may need to take formal action, such as the service of a notice or even a prosecution.

Do I need to register my business?
Probably, if you have any employees. Contact your enforcing authority if you need further information.

What is the main legislation covering Health & Safety?
The principal legislation covering business premises is the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. There are also a number of Regulations that fall under this Act which deal with particular health and safety issues.

What are the main duties that are covered by the legislation?
If you are an employer your duties include:
providing safe equipment and systems of work for your employees to use.

making sure that handling, storage, transportation and use of any articles or substances is safe

providing adequate information, instruction, supervision and training on health & safety matters to your employees.

keeping the workplace well maintained including all stairs, passages and means of access and egress.

providing adequate and suitable toilet and welfare facilities. ensuring that any non-employees (customers, visitors, etc) are not put at risk by your activities.

Employees also must take care of their own health & safety as well as that of other staff customers and visitors.

If you are self-employed you must also take care of your own health & safety as well as any other persons affected by your business activities.

What is the maximum temperature for workplaces?
There is no legal maximum temperature for workplaces. However, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 require that during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable. As there is no legal maximum, a judgment must be made on an individual case basis as to what is considered reasonable in the circumstances.

Employers are required to assess the risk to the health, safety and welfare of their employees. This includes the effects of heat, cold and humidity. An acceptable zone of thermal comfort for most people in the UK will be between 13 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius, with more strenuous work activities concentrated at the bottom end of the range, and more sedentary activities at the higher end of the scale. Some ideas for ensuring thermal comfort in the warmer weather are:-
Provide air conditioning or air cooling equipment Provide fans Ensure windows can be opened Use blinds to reduce the effects of the sun Move workstations away from direct sunlight Provide additional drinking water facilities (water is preferable to carbonated or caffeine drinks) Allow flexible working patterns or rotate staff in warmer areas Allow sufficient breaks to allow staff to get drinks or cool down Relax the dress code.

What is the minimum temperature for workplaces?
The Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 requires the temperature in a workroom to be at least 16 degrees Celsius unless much of the work involves severe physical effort in which case the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. Some ideas for ensuring thermal comfort in the colder weather are:-
Provide adequate background and local heating Reduce draughts Provide appropriate protective clothing Ensure work systems limit exposure to a cold environment Allow sufficient breaks for hot drinks and to warm up in heated areas
If you feel that the temperature in your workplace is not reasonable, please contact us via the link at the bottom of the right-hand side menu.

What first aid provision do I need?
The First Aid Regulations 1981, require employers to provide adequate and appropriate first aid provision for employees. There is no requirement to provide first aid equipment for members of public. The leaflet, “First Aid at Work Your Questions Answered” gives a guide to minimum quantities of first aid materials. The leaflet can be downloaded from http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg214.pdf.
Do I need to provide a first aider?

Unless there are 50 employees at the premises, you are not required to provide a first aider. However you should have an “appointed person” who is responsible for stocking the first aid box and calling an ambulance if required.
Where there are 50 employees one first aider should be appointed in addition to the appointed person. A guide to first aid provision is given in the leaflet; “First Aid at Work Your Questions Answered” from the HSE website.

Do I need an accident book?
If you employ 10 or more persons, at the same time, you are legally required (under the Social Security Claims and Payments Regulations 1979), to provide an accident book (B1510) where employees or people acting on their behalf can enter details of accidents leading to injury. Data Protection law requires that personal information must be kept secure.

If you employ less than 10 people at the same time, it is recommended that you provide an accident book in which details are kept of all accidents which result in injury to employees, whilst they are at work, and others. The appropriate details to include in your accident book are:

Name and address of the injured person. Date and time of the accident. The place where the accident happened. The cause and nature of the injury. The name and address of the person who is recording the accident
You can purchase an accident book from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Suffolk, CO10 2WA Tel 01787 881165 Fax 01787 313995, order online via the Related Links section.

Alternatively, you can buy the poster from any good bookseller. The ISBN number is: 0 71762603 2

Does my employer have to provide separate sanitary conveniences for male and female employees?
Separate conveniences should normally be provided unless the convenience is in a separate room and the door of which can be secured from the inside.

Am I entitled to a tea or lunch break?
Workers are entitled to a break of at least 20 minutes if they have worked for more than 6 hours.

Does my employer have to provide me with an eyesight test if I work with a visual display unit?

Employers have a duty to ensure the provision of an appropriate eye and eyesight test on the request of a visual display user. Can an employer charge me for providing personal protective equipment?

Who is responsible for health and safety in my workplace?
Ultimately, the employer is responsible, but everyone has a duty for their own and other people’s health and safety.

How can I find out more/keep up-to-date with Health and Safety?
The most up-to-date information is available on the HSE’s website in the form of news concerning HSE campaigns, free information leaflets and the main issues currently influencing health and safety – www.hse.gov.uk. Subscription services and some publications are available from HSE books – 01787 881165. What type of accident do I need to report to the enforcing authority?

Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (also known as RIDDOR) certain injuries must be reported to the HSE. The HSE can supply you with a useful booklet that explains the Regulations and includes a photocopiable form that you will need in the event that you have to report an accident to us. For specific advice contact an Environmental Health Officer, as delay in reporting could mean that you are committing an offence.

How do I report an accident?
All accidents can now be reported to the Incident Contact Centre based in Caerphilly. You can report accidents by phone, fax, via the Internet or by post.

You must report any accident which causes:
An employee to be killed or suffer a major injury A member of the public to be killed or have to be taken to hospital An employee to be away from work for three days or more If a doctor notifies you that your employee suffers from a reportable work related disease

What is a ‘major injury’?
Major injuries are:
Fracture other than to fingers, thumbs or toes Amputation Dislocation of the shoulder, hip, knee or spine Chemical or hot metal burn to the eye or any penetrating injury to the eye Postal Reports
Incident Contact Centre
Caerphilly Business Park
CF83 3GG
Internet Reports – www.riddor.gov.uk
Phone/Fax – 0845 3000 99924
Email – [email protected]

You can still report directly to the Public Protection Department on 01978 292040 or send the relevant form (F2508).

Do I need a Health and Safety Poster and where can I obtain one?
If you employ staff you must either display a Health and Safety Law Poster (ISBN 07176 2493 5) or give a Health and Safety Law leaflet to each employee.

Posters can be obtained from any HMSO stationers such as Waterstones,

Do I need to register my business?
If you are a new business you will need to register with HSE depending on the sort of business you have. For the Local Authority you should complete form OSR1 (notice of persons in office, shop or certain railway premises).

What is a health and safety policy?
A health and safety policy means the health and safety arrangements i.e. the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventative and protective measures. If there are 5 or more employees these arrangements must be recorded. If there are less than 5 employees the appropriate arrangements still need to be in place. An introduction to Health and Safety (INDG259) is available on the HSE website.

What is meant by “hazard and risk”?
A hazard means anything that can cause harm (e.g. chemicals, electricity, working at height, machinery etc). Risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody will be harmed by the hazard.

How do I carry out a risk assessment?
A risk assessment should involve the identification of significant hazards present in a working environment or arising out of commercial activities and work activities. Five steps to risk assessment

What are the highest and lowest temperatures that I am allowed to work in?
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require that during working hours the temperatures inside buildings shall be reasonable.

It would be reasonable to expect a temperature in an office environment to be at least 16°c after the first hour. Where the temperature in the workplace is uncomfortably high all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a comfortable temperature e.g by providing air-cooling plant, shading windows, provision of fans.

Working alone, what should I consider?
Your employer must carry out a risk assessment and then take any reasonable steps to ensure you can work safely.

Does my employer have to provide drinking water at work?
The Workplaces (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (ISBN 0717604136) require your employer to provide an adequate supply.

Does my workplace need to have artificial ventilation?
Workplaces need to be adequately ventilated. It will depend on the workplace whether windows will be sufficient or mechanical ventilation will need to be provided.

Do I need to have employers liability compulsory insurance?
Yes it’s the law if you employ anyone – and you should display the certificate in the workplace.

I will be hiring agency workers, what do I need to consider?
If you hire agency workers, you must tell the employment business (agency) hiring them to you about the risk to the worker’s health and safety and steps you have taken to control them.

Can people smoke in the workplace?
No, on July 1st 2007, the smokefree law was introduced. It is now against the law to smoke in virtually all ‘enclosed’ and ‘substantially enclosed’ public places and workplaces.

Do the new Work at Height Regulations 2005 ban the use of ladders?
No. They require that ladders should only be considered where a risk assessment has shown that the use of other suitable work equipment is not appropriate because of the low risk and short duration of the task or considerations of where the work is located.

Work at Height Regulations 2005 “The Working at Height Regulations 2005: A brief guide (INDG401) – Free HSE leaflet” (link to external website).