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Employer responsibilities to avoid accidents at work

View profile for Aimee Brown
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We spend a significant amount of time at work and so staying safe is something both employees and employers are responsible for.  According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 1.3 million working people suffered from a work-related illness in 2015/16, with 144 workers killed while at work, and a further 621,000 injuries occurred at work, according to the Labour Force Survey.  30.4 million working days are lost due to work-related illness and injury, costing £14.1 billion.  

Aimee Brown, Personal Injury Executive, explains exactly what steps employers should take, and what employees need to do to reduce the amount of accidents happening in the workplace.

Health, safety and welfare

It is the responsibility of all employers’ to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees by:

  • Making them aware of the dangers in their job role and what steps they are taking to reduce the risk.
  • Providing them with any safety equipment and personal protective clothing that may be needed.This must fit the employee properly and not cause any additional hazards.Each employee must then use this correctly and follow any training given.
  • Ensuring that machinery is regularly maintained and is safe.
  • Reporting any diseases or illnesses to the appropriate authority.
  • Providing essentials such as toilets, washing facilities and drinking water.
  • Providing a working environment with adequate lighting and temperature control, and allowing employees to have access to rest breaks during the working day.

First aid at work

One further key requirement is that there must be first aid arrangements.  As a minimum, an employer must have a first aid box which is fully stocked at all times, an appointed person acting as a first aider and all employees must be aware of the first aid arrangements.  A first aider must be training by an approved organisation and consequently will hold a qualification in first aid at work or emergency first aid at work.

A competent person must also be appointed to manage health and safety.  The size of the business and sector will determine who the likely person will be, whether it is the business owner, another person in-house or an external provider can be recruited to manage this.

Risk assessments

Risk assessments form a large part of managing health and safety in the workplace.  A risk assessment will identify what is in your business that could cause harm to people, and explains the steps you are taking, or will take, to reduce that risk.  It is accepted that it is not realistic to be able to remove all risks, but by creating sensible measures they can be reduced or managed.  Simply walking around the premises will identify initial hazards, and talking to employees will help ascertain the hazards specific to their job role.  Involving employees is an excellent way to promote the message that an employer is committed to health and safety and that their welfare is important.  Once identified, decisions will then need to be made about the level of risk and what measures will be taken.

Risk assessments should be reviewed on a regular basis as work processes or equipment may change over time.

Once risk assessments have been conducted, a health and safety policy can be produced which describes how health and safety is managed in the business, explaining the procedures employees should follow should they feel something is wrong. 


Employees cannot abide by the company health and safety policy if they do not know what it is, so communicating this to employees is the first step towards them taking ownership of their own safety.  This can be done on an individual basis, through an online forum, in a group training session, or there may be a trade union or health and safety representative to do this.

Health and safety training must be supplied free of charge for employees and this will be proportionate to the business size and sector.  Training must include the hazards and risks employees may face, the measures that are in place to protect them from those hazards, how they should deal with the risks, and also how to follow any emergency procedures.  Employers should keep training records and all health and safety training should be repeated at regular intervals. 

Employers must ensure that training is adapted towards their specific workforce, for example if there are employees who do not have English as their first language, steps must be taken to ensure they understand the regulations.

Employee Health and Safety responsibilities

While it is the employers’ responsibility to provide the appropriate work environment, equipment and training, employees do also have certain responsibilities, including:

  • Follow the training they have been provided with.
  • Take reasonable care of their own, and other people’s, health and safety.
  • Communicate with their employer, trade union representative or the HSE if they believe their or others health and safety is being put at risk.
  • Be aware of the risks affecting their own specific roles and work environment, for example if they are operating heavy machinery, do not wear clothing or jewellery that could get caught in machines.
  • Inform their employer of anything that could impact their role, such as pregnancy or an injury obtained outside of work.
  • Report any illnesses or injuries obtained as a result of doing your job.

“Health and safety is not a one size fits all process,” explains Aimee.  “The risks in your workplace will be determined by your size and what sector you are in, but the message remains the same that both employers and employees have responsibilities when it comes to their own and others health and safety.  We often see the consequences of accidents that happen at work, some of which are easily avoidable had the correct steps been taken prior to, or following, the accident.”

If you’ve had an accident at work and you’d like to discuss the next steps towards claiming compensation, you can contact Aimee or another member of the Personal Injury team on 0800 91 92 30 or email


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.