Health and safety FAQs
Do health and safety laws apply to me?
They apply to all businesses, however small, to both the self-employed and also employees.
Who administers and enforces health and safety laws?
Responsibility is split between us and the Health and Safety Executive.
What do inspectors do?
Carry out inspections, provide guidance, and investigate complaints and accidents. If there are serious contraventions of the law, then formal action can be taken.
Do I need to register my business?
Employers no longer have to register the factories, offices and shops in which their employees work, however, certain other businesses may require a specific licence, eg skin piercers, tattooists, animal boarding establishments and horse riding establishments. Please contact us for further information.
What's the main legislation covering health and safety?
The principal piece of legislation is the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974. There are also a number of regulations made under this act which deal with specific health and safety issues.
What are the main duties that are covered by the law?
Employers’ 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 and 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 must also take care of their own health and safety as well as that of other staff, customers and visitors
- Self-employed people must also take care of their own health and safety, as well as that of other customers and visitors
I’m starting a new business, what do I do?
Take a look at the HSE guide to Health and Safety for new businesses
Is there a maximum temperature allowed in a workplace?
No, but during working hours the temperature in all workplaces within a building must be reasonable.
Is there a minimum temperature allowed in a workplace?
Yes, the temperature in a workroom should 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. These minimum temperatures may not apply in rooms, or parts of rooms, where food or other products have to be kept cold, or doors to the outside may have to be kept open.
Does my employer have to provide separate sanitary conveniences for male and female staff?
Separate conveniences should normally be provided unless the convenience is in a separate room, the door of which can be secured from the inside.
Am I entitled to a tea or lunch break?
Workers are entitled to a tea break of at least 20 minutes if they have worked for more than six hours. Young people (aged between 16 and 18) must have a 30 minute break after four and a half hours’ work.
Does my employer have to provide me with an eyesight test if I work with a computer screen?
Employers have a duty to ensure the provision of an appropriate eye and eyesight test at the request of a user if visual display screen use is a significant part of their normal work.
Can an employer charge me for providing essential personal protective equipment?
Where can I get a health and safety poster?
Health and safety law posters (‘What You Should Know’) are available from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Suffolk, CO10 2WA, telephone 01787 881165 fax 01787 313995, or you can order online.
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's no requirement to provide first aid equipment for members of the public. The leaflet, “First Aid at Work – Your Questions Answered” gives a guide to minimum quantities of first aid materials.
Do I need to provide a first aider?
Unless there are 50 employees at the premises, you're 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 more than 50 employees, one first aider should be appointed in addition to the appointed person. A guide to first aid provision is given in the First Aid at Work – Your Questions Answered leaflet.
Do I need an accident book?
If you employ ten or more people at the same time, you're 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 fewer than ten people at the same time, it's recommended that you provide an accident book in which details are kept of all accidents which result in injury to employees (whilst at work) and others. The appropriate details to include are:
- Name and address of injured person
- Date and time of accident
- Location of accident
- Cause and nature of injury
- Name and address of person recording the details
You can purchase an accident book from HSE books.