The health and safety toolbox: How to control risks at work

This site provides helpful areas of advice, which apply to all workplaces.


You need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of workplace dangers and provide a safe working environment.

Health and safety management should be a straightforward part of managing your business as a whole. It involves practical steps that protect people from harm and at the same time protect the future success of your business.

See the full Introduction.

How to manage health and safety

Managing health and safety is an integral part of managing your business. You need to do a risk assessment to find out about the risks in your workplace, put sensible measures in place to control them, and make sure they stay controlled.

If you are a small low risk business and have already read Health and Safety Made Simple, then it is likely that you won't need to read this information. However, if you want more detailed information on particular aspects of managing the health and safety in your workplace such as 'Consulting your employees' or 'Providing supervision' then you will find it here

See the full section on How to manage health and safety.

Your organisation

This part of the site covers issues that can affect your workers and may need action at an organisational level.

Each section explains how factors in your workplace can have an impact, either because of the nature of the work or the way it is managed. The sections relate to hazards and health issues you may need to assess and take action to deal with – they could be included in your health and safety policy.

See the full section on Your organisation.

Your workers

Everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. As an employer, giving your workers the right knowledge and skills is not only a legal duty but also can contribute to the success of your business.

See the full section on Your workers.

Your workplace

You must provide a safe and healthy environment for all your employees and take their welfare needs into account. However, this doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming. This applies to a very wide range of workplaces, not only factories, shops and offices but also, for example, schools, hospitals, hotels and places of entertainment.

See the full section on Your workplace

Choose whichever topics are relevant to your workplace

Electrical safety

Electricity can kill or severely injure people and cause damage to property. However, you can take simple precautions when working with or near electricity and electrical equipment to significantly reduce the risk of injury to you, your workers and others around you. This section provides a summary of those precautions.

See the full section on Electrical safety.

Fire safety

Most fires are preventable, and those responsible for workplaces and other buildings to which the public have access can avoid them by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behaviours and procedures. This section covers general advice on fire safety and also provides guidance on substances that cause fire and explosion.

See the full section on Fire safety.

Gas safety

There is a danger of fire, explosion, gas leaks and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from gas appliances and the gas supply itself if they are not properly installed and maintained.

See the full section on Gas safety.

Harmful substances

Many materials or substances used or created at work could harm your health. These substances could be dusts, gases or fumes that you breathe in, or liquids, gels or powders that come into contact with your eyes or skin. You can find advice on controlling these harmful substances, such as asbestos and lead etc, in the full section on Harmful substances.

Machinery, plant and equipment

This section covers the different aspects of using machinery and maintaining plant and equipment in the workplace. Employers should consider not only how their workers use machinery but how they ensure that they have adequate maintenance arrangements in place to make sure it remains safe to use.

See the full section on Machinery, plant and equipment.

Manual handling

Manual handling causes over a third of all workplace injuries. These include work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as pain and injuries to arms, legs and joints, and repetitive strain injuries of various sorts.

See the full section on Manual handling.


Loud noise at work can damage your hearing. This usually happens gradually and it may only be when the damage caused by noise combines with hearing loss due to ageing that people realise how impaired their hearing has become.

See the full section on Noise.

Personal protective equipment

Employers have duties concerning the provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at work. PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).

See the full section on Personal protective equipment.

Pressure equipment

Many types of pressure equipment can be potentially hazardous and these include steam boilers and associated pipework, pressurised hot-water boilers, air compressors, air receivers and associated pipework, autoclaves, gas (eg LPG) storage tanks and chemical reaction vessels.

See the full section on Pressure equipment.


Every day in the UK, all manner of radiation types are used in a diverse range of industrial, medical, research and communications applications. Some of these applications cause harmful exposure risks that must be effectively controlled.

See the full section on Radiations.

Slips and trips

Most slips occur when floors become wet or contaminated and many trips are due to poor housekeeping. The solutions are often simple and cost-effective and a basic assessment of the risks should help to identify any slip or trip hazards in your workplace.

See the full section on Slips and trips.


Hand-arm vibration (HAV) is vibration transmitted during work into hands and arms. It can be caused by operating handheld power tools, such as road breakers, and handguided equipment, such as powered lawnmowers, or by holding materials being processed by machines, such as pedestal grinders. Occasional exposure is unlikely to cause ill health.

See the full section on Vibration.

Working at height

Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries. Common cases include falls from ladders and through fragile surfaces. 'Work at height' means work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury (for example a fall through a fragile roof).

See the full section on Working at height.

Working in confined spaces

A confined space is one which is both enclosed and has a reasonably foreseeable risk to workers of fire, explosion, asphyxiation or drowning.

It may be small and restrictive for the worker or it could be far larger such as a grain storage silo with hundreds of cubic metre capacity.

See the full section on Working in confined spaces.

Workplace transport

Every year, there are accidents involving transport in the workplace, some of which result in people being killed.

People are knocked down, run over, or crushed against fixed parts by vehicles (eg HGVs, lift trucks and tractors), plant and trailers. People also fall from vehicles – whether getting on or off, working at height, or when loading or unloading.

See the full section on Workplace transport.

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