Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employees are entrusted with specific duties to ensure workplace safety.
The idea is that everyone collaborates to create a safe workplace – from management to the floor.
This article overviews employee responsibilities in the workplace.
Who is Responsible for Health and Safety in the Workplace?
Health and safety duties extend beyond full-time or permanent employees.
It also encompasses apprentices, mobile, homeworkers, and temporary, casual, or agency workers, with the responsibility often shared between the agency and the hirer to ensure these workers receive appropriate rights and protections.
Employees’ primary responsibilities include:
- Taking Care of Personal and Others’ Safety: Employees must exercise reasonable care to prevent harm to themselves and others who might be affected by their actions.
- Compliance and Cooperation: Adhering to their employers’ safety measures and procedures is crucial. This includes following instructions and using work items as per the provided training and guidelines.
- Communication and Reporting: Employees should promptly report any dangerous work situations, health and safety issues, and near-misses or accidents.
- Active Prevention and Problem-Solving: This involves keeping work areas clean and dry, clearing up spillages, avoiding obstacles, and suggesting ways to prevent potential hazards.
Addressing Specific Workplace Risks
Employees are also responsible for identifying and preventing various workplace-specific risks. Here are some specific risks employees should assist in managing:
- Maintaining Clean and Clear Floor Spaces: Employees are expected to ensure that the floors in their work areas are kept clean and free of debris. This includes regular cleaning to prevent the accumulation of materials that can cause slips, such as liquids, oils, or loose materials like sawdust or paper scraps.
- Immediate Response to Spillages: Quick action is required in the event of spillages. Employees should either clean up spills immediately or, if it’s not safe or feasible, report them to the relevant authority in the workplace to act.
- Proactive Reporting of Inadequate Lighting: Adequate lighting is crucial in ensuring that potential hazards are visible. Employees are encouraged to report any areas of the workplace where lighting is poor or insufficient, as this can significantly increase the risk of slips, trips, and falls.
- Cable Management: Trailing cables are a common cause of trips in the workplace. Employees should endeavour to manage cables effectively, either by using cable organisers, ensuring cables are routed away from walkways, or reporting situations where trailing cables are unavoidable and pose a risk.
- Avoiding Obstructions in Walkways: Keeping walkways and corridors clear of obstructions is essential. This includes not leaving personal items like bags or boxes in areas where people walk and ensuring that workplace materials and equipment are stored properly when not in use.
Legal Implications and Enforcement
Legal compliance is a necessity for safeguarding employee welfare.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides comprehensive guidelines and resources for both employers and employees to understand and fulfil these responsibilities.
Failure to adhere to these responsibilities can lead to legal repercussions, so it’s vital to train a conscientious workforce that understands risks.
It’s only through collective effort that ensures a workplace that is productive, secure, and healthy for all.
To build a health and safety conscious workforce, work with specialist training providers like HCS Safety. We offer a huge range of courses and membership services for businesses looking to build exceptionally safe workplaces.