Health and Safety UK – A Beginners Guide

Health and Safety UK – A Beginners Guide


Health & safety in the UK has somewhat of a stigma attached to it, but why? Some see it as a dark art or perhaps excessive bureaucracy or Red tape! Now, this is strange really as the UK created it’s first safety legislation in 1833 and was known as theĀ  Factories Act. Since then the UK has led the world in Health & Safety, we have one of the best safety records in europe. In this article we will cover the basics of what you need to do as a business owner.

The Law Poster

One of the few basics you must do is to display the HSE’s health and safety law poster, these can be purchased direct from the HSE website. You do not have to fill in the boxes at the bottom unlime the previous version, but it is good practice to do. Because this is on display it is good practice to put the name of the person responsible for health & safety on it.

HSE Law Poster

Access to Competent Advice

As mentioned above, your are required under The Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations 1999, Section 7. This is because you must appoint a competent persons to assist you in undertaking the measures required to ensure you meet your legal and moral obligations. This can be an employee, a consultant or a combination of both. Island HSEQ provides competent advice to all our clients and is the main reason we are appointed.

Health and safety Policy

The law says that every business must have a policy for managing health and safety.

A health and safety policy sets out your general approach to health and safety. It explains how you, as an employer, will manage health and safety in your business. It should clearly say who does what, when and how.

If you have five or more employees, you must write your policy down. If you have fewer than five employees you do not have to write anything down, but it is useful to do so.

You must share the policy, and any changes to it, with your employees

Conduct a Risk Assessment

It is a legal requirement to assess all reasonably foreseeable risk associated with your undertakings. If you have 5 or more employees it is a legal requirement to document the risk assessment. Having said that, if you are going to conduct a risk assessment, why wouldn’t you document it?

There are many different ways to conduct a risk assessment, there is an example on the HSE website but we offer a free download. regardless of what template you use, you must include the following;

5 Steps to a Risk Assessment

  • Identify any significant hazards
  • Decide who can be harmed and how
  • Assess the risk and take action to reduce the risk as low as reasonably practicable
  • Record your findings
  • Review the risk assessment

We will soon be publishing an article on how to conduct a risk assessment, in the meantime head over to our YouTube Channel now to watch the free video there!

Depending on your activities, there may be many more obligations. These are generally for higher risk activities like hot works, working at height, lifting operations, using chemicals etc.

Need more help?

If you would like to know more about the services Island HSEQ provide then please drop us an email or give us a call on 01206 692583

Here is a video we made about the basics of health and safety;