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Employer responsibilities

Health and safety management

The legal responsibility for health and safety rests primarily with the employer, who must ensure that the organisation has the necessary management framework to protect the health and safety of staff as well as providing a safe working environment.

For information on key elements of effective health and safety management and sector-specific guidance, see:

Health and safety policies

All organisations employing five or more staff are legally required to have a written statement confirming their health and safety policy. It is also a legal requirement that employees / their safety representatives are consulted on health and safety matters. For example, it is best practice for employees to be represented in the development of written health and safety policy statements, local policies and topic-specific guidance. This is an important way to create and maintain a safe and healthy working environment.

For larger organisations, the overall health and safety policy may be supported by local policies and topic-specific guidance (eg for protection against BBV). Information on creating a health and safety policy and developing local procedures can be found in Managing health and safety: Five steps to success.

For further guidance on consulting employees and their safety representatives, see: Consulting employees on health and safety: A brief guide to the law.

Access to competent advice

In managing workplace health and safety, including the development of a policy, employers must seek advice from a competent person(s) (ie someone with sufficient training and experience or knowledge to fulfil this role). A competent person may therefore be (for example) a health and safety advisor / assistant or a safety officer.

For work with biological agents, employers may require further support from a biological safety officer and / or referral to an infection control team. It may also be appropriate for occupational health professionals to advise employers on the legal responsibilities of healthcare provision in the workplace. See: Health surveillance and occupational health for further information.

You must seek advice from a competent person in good time on any arrangements for health and safety in the workplace. For more information on appointing a competent person and general health and safety management, see: Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999: Approved Code of Practice and guidance.

Updated 2013-03-11