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Factsheet:

Health and safety at work

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in August 2016.

What is health and safety at work?

Health and safety at work encompasses a very wide range of duties and initiatives aimed at maintaining a safe working environment for employees. There are many relevant pieces of legislation and case law which impose legal duties on matters ranging from the provision of insurance and written policies on health and safety to education and training for staff, risk assessments and inspections. In addition there are numerous initiatives and guidance aimed at promoting a holistic, proactive approach to health and wellbeing issues at work and improving employees’ work performance and reducing sickness absence. Health and safety is sometimes also used as an excuse to justify not permitting some activity when in fact health and safety legislation does not apply.

In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the government agency which decides on and implements health and safety policy. After extensive consultation in 2016, HSE produced a strategy document Helping Great Britain work well. It contains six main themes including highlighting and tackling the costs of work-related ill health, simplifying risk management and helping business to grow and giving SMEs simple advice so they know what they have to do. The aim is to focus on these six themes over the next five years to make the greatest improvement to the health and safety system.

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  • What is health and safety at work?
  • The UK law on health and safety at work
  • UK employers’ health and safety obligations
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  • References
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