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What are the legal duties on my employer to ensure my health, safety and welfare at work?

All employers have a common-law duty of care to their employees. In addition, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 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; 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.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 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.