Who Is Responsible For Health and Safety In Your Workplace?

Posted on written by Sam Barton

The right to work in a safe environment is enshrined in health and safety law in the UK however there is often some confusion about who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace. The UK generally has a safer working culture than the rest of the EU but where does the onus lie?
Does it come down to the employer to lay down the law so to speak or do the employees have an obligation to ensure a safe working environment?

In this weeks’ blog, we want to have a look at the different roles each section of the workforce plays in regard to creating a health and safety workplace and why collaboration and a joint effort is important.

The Main Duty Is On The Employer

At a basic level, the main responsibility is on the employer to do their best to create a safe working environment for their staff.

This includes activities such as carrying out risk assessments, listening and taking action on health and safety concerns in addition to providing proper training to make sure that everyone is safe. Accidents can’t always be avoided but these are the basic steps that an employer needs to take when managing staff.

Many organisation’s operate a ‘top-down’ health and safety model with all the directives coming from management level. This creates a culture of accountability however solely relying on this approach can have drawbacks as not all of the responsibility should be put onto the managers’ shoulders. 

Employee’s Play A Key Role Too

While employers take the main steps to ensure a safe workplace, employees have their own duties and responsibilities as well

It is their job to report health and safety concerns, follow the correct procedures and generally keep themselves and others safe. Operating a collaborative approach is vital. Not only is it part of IOSH’s Work 2020 Health and Safety Strategy between organisation’s but at a smaller level it promotes safe working between employees.

Workers should have a proactive approach to keeping informed with the law, following risk assessment recommendations and reporting any health and safety breaches. The entire policy doesn’t rest solely on the employer because everyone in the organisation has a duty to keep themselves and others safe too.

Who Is Responsible For Health and Safety in Your Workplace?

The best way to operate a safe working environment and also promote a low risk working culture is for everyone to pull in the same direction to achieve this. While the actual policy is usually implemented from above it is the employees on the ground that help shape this and they often know better than anyone what risks are involved in their everyday jobs.

All levels in an organisation play an important part in maintaining health and safety at work.

So, who is responsible for health and safety in your workplace? Does management rule with an iron fist or is there a collaborative approach between the employer and employees to create a safe environment for everyone?

We’d love to hear your experiences!


Who is responsible for health and safety - IOSH 2020

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The room size was just right. The facilities were comfortable and the refreshments were free flowing providing an environment that was perfect for concentration. The trainer (Robin) was excellent. He maintained a pace that everyone was able to keep up with, the subject matter was kept interesting, he was evidently… Read More »

Debbie Dowsett

On day 1, Keith described the three types of people that attend courses and I was identified as a hostage! Attending this course was a requirement and I will be honest, I had a mountain of paperwork on my desk and did not want to be there. By the end… Read More »

Dave Critchell – ARCS Environmental Ltd

I organised IOSH Managing Safely for staff all of whom enjoyed the 4 days and I am pleased to say all passed. I have had very positive feedback about Robin the trainer and the course has generated a great deal of discussion and thought . My contact Jo at PSS… Read More »

Peter Dickinson – East Hertfordshire District Council

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