Taking responsibility

Key messages

  • Establishing responsibilities and relationships is a key part of securing safe working practices and promoting a culture of safety.
  • To secure and maintain a safe workplace, everyone from senior managers to individual employees needs to be aware of their individual responsibilities for safety, and act accordingly.

Take overall responsibility

Employers need to take responsibility for safety and show their commitment by example and in everyday decisions. For example:

  • Hold regular (weekly or monthly) meetings with employees and safety representatives (if you have these), to discuss current work activities and associated safety issues. Meetings are usually more effective if they have a chairperson, a clear agenda, and when actions and deadlines are recorded in minutes.
  • Make regular and obvious tours of the workplace, including inspections of vehicles, roadways and behaviour, to check that there are no obvious hazards in the workplace and that workers are following safe working practices.
  • Report on both good and bad features of managing risks in the workplace.
  • Make sure that formal or informal work-related discussions with employees always include safety issues.

Allocate specific responsibilities

Employers should clearly allocate responsibilities for health and safety management. All employees, contractors, subcontractors, visiting drivers, maintenance staff and other workers must clearly understand their responsibilities for maintaining a safe workplace and safe working practices. For example:

  • Include safety responsibilities in employees' job descriptions, and in contracts with contractors and companies whose employees drive on site.
  • Include safety issues and responsibilities in the information, instruction and training given to people who are new to the workplace;
  • Raise safety issues and responsibilities while supervising employees and being in daily contact with them.
  • Display safety notices or bulletins, risk assessment findings and the results of safety inspections, where people can clearly see them.

Consider dividing the workplace (including car parks, access roads, weighbridges, lay-bys and other areas) into areas where managers are responsible for carrying out risk assessments, taking action, and maintaining and repairing features. Show these areas on a drawing to which everyone has easy access and include the whole area of the workplace.


However responsibility for transport safety is arranged, it is important that people are held accountable. Employers and managers need to make sure that everyone is held responsible for their duties and knows what will happen if they fail to carry them out. Performance agreements, appraisals and so on should include safety-related responsibilities, for managers and supervisors as well as other workers. There should be clear penalties for poor performance, and rewards for good performance.


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