The law on workplace safety

As an employer, you must provide welfare facilities and a working environment that's healthy and safe for everyone in your workplace, including those with disabilities.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations cover a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues and apply to most workplaces.

You must:

  • make sure your buildings are in good repair
  • maintain the workplace and any equipment so that it is safe and works efficiently
  • put right any dangerous defects immediately, or take steps to protect anyone at risk
  • take precautions to prevent people or materials falling from open edges, for example fencing or guard rails
  • fence or cover floor openings, for example vehicle examination pits, when not in use
  • have enough space for safe movement and access
  • provide safety glass, if necessary
  • make sure floors, corridors, stairs and suchlike are free of obstructions, for example trailing cables
  • provide good drainage in wet processes
  • make sure any windows capable of being opened can be opened, closed or adjusted safely
  • make sure all windows and skylights are designed and constructed so that they may be cleaned safely (you may also need to fit anchor points if window cleaners have to use harnesses)
  • minimise risks caused by snow and ice on outdoor routes, for example use salt or sand and sweep them


You must provide:

  • good light – use natural light where possible but try to avoid glare
  • a good level of local lighting at workstations where necessary
  • suitable forms of emergency lighting
  • well-lit stairs and corridors
  • well-lit outside areas – for pedestrians and to help with work activities such as loading/unloading at night

Moving around the premises

You must have:

  • safe passage for pedestrians and vehicles – separate routes may be necessary
  • level, even floors and surfaces without holes or broken boards
  • hand-rails on stairs and ramps where necessary
  • safely constructed doors and gates
  • floors and surfaces which are not slippery


You must:

  • provide clean floors and stairs, with effective drainage where necessary
  • provide clean premises, furniture and fittings
  • provide containers for waste materials
  • remove dirt, refuse and trade waste regularly
  • clear up spillages promptly
  • keep internal walls or ceilings clean

Hygiene and welfare

You must provide:

  • clean toilets and hand basins, with running hot and cold or warm water, soap and towels or another suitable means of drying
  • drinking water
  • somewhere to rest and eat meals, including facilities for eating food which would otherwise become contaminated
  • showers for dirty work or emergencies
  • drying facilities for wet work clothes, if practical and necessary
  • accommodation or hanging space for personal clothing not worn at work (and somewhere to change if special clothing is worn for work)
  • rest facilities for pregnant women and nursing mothers

In some circumstances your risk assessment will highlight the need to provide additional specific controls, for example:

  • skin cleansers, with nail brushes
  • barrier cream and skin-conditioning cream where necessary
  • certain facilities for workers working away from base, for example chemical toilets in some circumstances

Comfortable conditions

You must provide:

  • a reasonable working temperature within workplaces inside buildings (usually at least 16 °C, or 13 °C for strenuous work, unless it is impractical to do so, for example in the food industry)
  • local heating or cooling where a comfortable temperature cannot be maintained throughout each workroom (for example hot and cold processes)
  • good ventilation – a sufficient supply of fresh, clean air drawn from outside or a ventilation system
  • heating systems which do not give off dangerous or offensive levels of fume into the workplace
  • enough workspace, including suitable workstations and seating

Working outdoors

For work outdoors you should consider things such as the weather, temperature (both hot and cold) and sun exposure.

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