February 23, 2021

Health & Safety in the Workplace – Regulations and Common Safety Hazards

By Sona Mathews

Improving occupational health and safety also contributes to a boost in morale and productivity. Your employees will welcome the positive changes to their environment, and they'll feel less stressed knowing that they're safe and that the company they work for cares about their wellbeing.

This will increase your profitability in the long run. Accidents and stress are major causes for absence from work resulting in lower productivity.

Health & Safety in the Workplace – Regulations and Common Safety Hazards: eAskme
Health & Safety in the Workplace – Regulations and Common Safety Hazards: eAskme

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These unscheduled absences force the other workers to take on more work since they have to cover for their colleagues, leading to a vicious circle since the increased pressure can cause them to have to take time off.

All employers have a legal duty to provide their employees with a safe working environment.

This means that if an accident takes place because of the employer's negligence, they will be held accountable and the employee has the right to claim compensation.

In recent decades, workplaces have become much safer.

That's attributed to significant improvements in the enforcement of health and safety regulations meant to protect employees from dangerous practices by requiring employers to maintain safe working conditions and provide proper training.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 forms the framework for UK health and safety legislation.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) created the Act to define the obligations employers have towards their employees in term of health and safety.

The Act outlines the general duties of employers, employees, owners and managers.

It requires companies to provide:

  • Proper training for staff members, so that the health and safety measures are understood and effectively implemented
  • Adequate welfare provisions for employees
  • Access to relevant information and oversight
  • A well-managed working environment where tasks are carried out safely

Businesses with five or more employees are required to keep a written record of their health and safety protocols.

They must also consult with their employees on matters of health and safety.

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 build upon the Health and Safety at Work etc.

Act 1974 and include the employer's responsibility to provide employees with washing facilities, drinking water, adequate lighting, ventilation and space to work, as well as break areas.

They also specify measures companies need to take to maintain floor spaces and equipment with the goal of protecting their employees from potential accidents and injuries.

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations 1992 (amended 2002)

The DSE Regulations are aimed at workers who use DSE for an hour or more at a time on a daily basis, and the DSE includes computers, laptops and smartphones.

Employers have a legal obligation to take the necessary measures to protect their employees from DSE-related health issues.

This means assessing the DSE workstations, providing ancillary equipment is needed, providing DSE employees with training, making sure they take breaks regularly and offering free eyesight examination upon request.

The Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999

The Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 explicitly states employer's obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act and how to carry out their obligations.

The focus is placed on risk assessment. For companies with five or more employees, risk assessments need to be carried out, and significant findings need to be recorded.

Employers have to report any shortcoming in terms of health and safety, use equipment in compliance with safety recommendations.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 – RIDDOR

Specific types of workplace incidents, injuries and illnesses have to be reported under RIDDOR.

This includes:

  • Fatal and non-fatal injuries
  • Incidents which involve gases
  • Incidents that result in an employee missing more than seven days of work
  • Dangerous incidents (also referred to as "near misses")
  • Occupational diseases

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 set out the regulations regarding construction work and include basic health and safety measures, as well as an added provision which stipulates that everyone on a construction site shares the responsibility of enforcing safety procedures.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005

As the name suggests the Work at Height Regulations 2005 cover the safety measures for people who work at heights and stipulate that:

  • Work at height must be pre-planned and managed with an emphasis on safety
  • Employees who work at height must be properly trained
  • Risks need to be assessed before work starts, and the workers have to be provided with the right equipment
  • The equipment used needs to be inspected and maintained to the required standard

Common Workplace Safety Hazards

Some jobs and working environments entail more risks than others.

Having said that, these risks can be minimized if the appropriate safety measures are implemented as per the regulations we described above.

Below we've listed some of the most common causes of occupational accidents and injuries.

Working at height

Working at height is very dangerous.

In the UK, falls from height are one of the major causes of fatal injuries.

That is why employers need to assess risks, perform safety checks, use 'fail protection' and provide their employees with personal protective equipment as specified in the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Poor housekeeping

Poor housekeeping includes anything that might cause injuries resulting from slips, trips and falls like wet floors or obstruction on the walkways.

Electrical hazards

Portable appliance testing (PAT) has to be carried out on electrical items in the working environment.


Employees have the right to view COSHH Sheets (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) which provide information regarding chemical products and their risks, as well as instruction on how to handle them safely.

Employees have to be provided with the right safety equipment, have access to washing facilities, and chemical warning symbols need to be used to alert them of the risks.

Fire safety

Fire safety regulations require companies to perform fire drills on a regular basis and provide employees with adequate fire safety training.

Emergency exits have to be clearly visible and well-lit.

During the fire drill, employees have to be made aware of the routes and meeting points they should know in case of a fire.

If you still have any question, feel free to ask me via comments.

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