Organising for safety


Establishing responsibilities and relationships within the workplace is a very important part of securing safe working practices, and promoting a culture of safety.

To secure and maintain a safe workplace, employers need to ensure that everyone from senior management to individual employees is aware of their responsibilities for safety, and acts accordingly.


The Four Cs

To help create a positive safety culture, remember 'the 4 Cs':


There are three key aspects to establishing control over safety in the workplace.

1. Take Overall Responsibility

Employers need to take responsibility for safety, and demonstrate their commitment. For example:

2. Allocate Specific Responsibilities

A clear allocation of responsibilities is needed so that all everyone understands their health and safety responsibilities. There are various ways of achieving this, for example by:

3. Enforce Compliance

Management needs to ensure that everyone at work is held accountable for his or her actions (primarily through supervision), and that there is some form of penalty if they fail to comply.


Good communication within an organisation helps secure and maintain a safe workplace.

It is important to have strong lines of communication, so that everyone is clear about their responsibilities, and so that any changes spread quickly across the whole organisation.

Information that needs to be communicated includes:

Everyone in the workplace, including contractors, should be encouraged to take an active interest in safety issues. Everyone should be given the chance to express views or concerns.

Where there are trade union appointed safety representatives, employers have specific duties to consult with them, and to set up a Health and Safety committee if two or more safety representatives request one.


Employees have a legal duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by what they do at work.

Employees also have a legal duty to co-operate with their employers, to enable them to comply with their health and safety responsibilities.

A Health & Safety Committee can be an effective way of enlisting the formal participation and co-operation of everyone in the workplace in carrying out their Health & Safety responsibilities.


Employers need to be sure that all everyone is capable of doing their work in a proper way (ie one that ensures their own safety and that of other people).

In a large organisation, senior management need to be satisfied that subordinate managers and supervisors are capable of organising a safe workplace. They need to be able to:

Employers need to ensure wherever possible that people are working in a safe and responsible way.

This is likely to include checking any licences, certificates and knowledge, capabilities, and general fitness for tasks they need to do (for example, are they completely sober and in control?).

Those in charge will need to be capable and willing to communicate safety advice and constructive feedback to employees etc., on their safety performance.

There are two principal ways of ensuring competence for a job:

Proper management and supervision is needed to ensure that the competence of employees, contractors, etc., is maintained and developed.

Contractors and subcontractors

[Back to top]

Where contractors or sub-contractors are employed, the site operator or principal employer should make sure that their activities fit in with the overall work scheme, without increasing risks unduly.

The person responsible for the site will need to provide the contractor with appropriate Health & Safety information in relation to the work to be carried out, so that the work can be done safely.

The person responsible for the site should check the suitability of the contractor and, through the contractor, any sub-contractor, in terms of Health & Safety standards. Check for example:

Visiting drivers

Some of the checks and procedures outlined above for contractors will also apply to visiting drivers.

It is important to make sure that visiting drivers are aware of the layout of the workplace, the route they need to take, and relevant procedures for safe working, for example about parking and unloading.

The employer at a workplace should liaise and co-operate with the employers of visiting drivers, to co-ordinate the measures that need to be taken for everyone to comply with their Health & Safety responsibilities. For example:

Shared premises

[Back to top]

The law requires any employers (including self-employed people) sharing a workplace to co-operate, co-ordinate and share information to help ensure a safe workplace.

Everyone needs to satisfy themselves that they complying with their legal duties.

Normally the site operator, or a main employer, controls the worksite, and in such cases will take need to take responsibility for co-ordinating Health & Safety measures:

Where there is no employer in overall control, individual employers and self-employed people will need to find a way of agreeing joint arrangements, for example by appointing a Health & Safety Supervisor or Co-ordinator, or establishing a Health & Safety Committee.