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Who is responsible for employee safety?

by Rob Haywood
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Is worker safety the responsibilty of the business owner or the worker?

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Safety at work should be a priority for any business, particularly in high risk environments such as building sites or warehouses, but who is ultimately responsible for wellbeing?

Employers

Employers are bound by law to take a certain amount of responsibility for employee safety. Every potential site that may be worked in (or visited) must be assessed for risk and the necessary provisions be put in place to reduce the risks posed by potential hazards. Employers can make use of signage to provide employees with safety information; for example, a simple warning sticker above a boiling water point can prevent burns and scalds, while appropriate signage directing employees to the fire exits can ensure that everyone is able to leave the building promptly in the event of an emergency. Use of signage is required under The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1981, and employers have a responsibility to ensure they have the correct signage in place to prevent accidents and injuries.

Employees

All employees have the right to be safe at work. They should, by law, be appropriately trained in the work they will be carrying out and they should also be trained in the health and safety practices of that workplace. These can be very specific, depending on the location and type of business. However, employees also have a responsibility to uphold their training and use the equipment or tools provided to them to keep them safe in the workplace. They may have a responsibility to wear special clothing to prevent injury, or they may have to follow signage to ensure that they avoid certain hazardous areas. The employer is unlikely to be liable for any accident or injury where risk assessments have been carried out and training has been given. Should an employee fail to adhere to instructions or training, they are responsible for any accidents or injuries caused.

Employee safety is the responsibility of both the employer and employee. It is impossible for employers to keep track of every employee, particularly if they often work off-site, therefore they must put the necessary provisions in place to ensure employees can look after themselves. It is an employee’s responsibility to follow signage and training to keep themselves safe in the workplace. Keeping the site safe using the appropriate signage is just one way to be proactive when it comes to workplace safety.

by Rob Haywood

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