Who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace?

  • ISO 45001

Health and safety regulation is changing for the better. It’s no longer just the domain of the H&S Manager, as the new standard ISO 45001 recognises the need for shared responsibility between employers and employees. Here’s how the new standard and Health and Safety Management Systems can help your organisation protect all of its staff.

If you’re an employer or staff member who thinks that health and safety is someone else’s job, think again. Wherever you work, health and safety needs everyone’s full compliance to be effective. The new standard replaces OHSAS 18001 and organisations have until 11 March 2021 to become compliant.

What’s different about ISO 45001?

ISO 45001 puts a much greater emphasis on management and staff engagement with health and safety. It’s no longer the sole responsibility of the Health and Safety Manager – it needs to be part of your business strategy, with management and staff playing their part, and more focus on risk management.

What are employers responsible for?

Business owners and employers are legally responsible for health and safety management. This means they need to make sure that employees, and anyone who visits their premises, are protected from anything that may cause harm, and control any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace. Employers’ main responsibilities are to:

  • Carry out risk assessments in the workplace to determine whether there are enough procedures in place to protect people.
  • Identify who needs protecting from hazards, including members of staff, contractors, part-time workers and people with specific requirements.
  • Implement safety procedures by providing and maintaining anything that’s needed to keep people safe, such as equipment and training.
  • Create a health and safety policy to make staff aware of the health and safety procedures in place, including fire safety and first aid.
  • Give employees information about health and safety issues in the workplace and how they are protected.
  • Provide training to help staff understand the risks they may face in their specific roles.
  • Display a health and safety poster, which is a legal requirement.
  • Provide a first aid kit, and a number of first aiders who have received practical training.

What are employees responsible for?

Employees also have a legal requirement to help the workplace remain safe, with a responsibility to take care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their actions at work. If employees follow safety instructions, they can help keep the workplace safe and help the business fulfil its legal duties. Employees’ main responsibilities are to:

  • Understand the risks associated with their work, and carry out their work safely to minimise risks around the workplace.
  • Follow any health and safety training, and work in a way that doesn’t create hazards or increase risk to themselves or others.
  • Comply with safety procedures, which includes anything put in place to protect their safety, such as protective barriers, systems, equipment, and wearing PPE if their work requires it.
  • Be proactive, and help keep hazards at a minimum, for example, cleaning as they go and tidying away obstructions.
  • Report any failings in safety procedures if they think something is a risk to safety. For example, if they discover faulty equipment or broken PPE, they should tell their supervisor straight away.

How can ISO 45001 help with health and safety responsibilities?

Having a clear health and safety management system in place can help you identify specific risks and track which member of staff is responsible for them. While the ultimate aim is to keep employees safe from harm, reducing the risk of accidents, claims, costs and business interruptions is beneficial for any business. Compliance with ISO 45001 can allow your organisation to demonstrate health and safety credentials, impress new and existing clients, and win and retain business, including government contract opportunities.

Achieve compliance with confidence

Contact us to find out how ISO 45001 can help your business, or find out more about our ISO 45001 certification.

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Written by Lee Styles

HSMS Scheme Manager - Company expert for 'Occupational Health and Safety' Standards; OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001. Additional assessment expertise for the following standards; ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 27001.