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General Workplace Safety

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 6 Aug 2018 | comments*Discuss
Workplace Safety Working Employees Law

You must provide a safe and healthy environment for your employees, including people with disabilities. As well as being safe, you must also take into account their welfare needs.

Certain industries such as mining or working with Hazardous Materials, for example, are covered by separate health and safety legislation but most of the advice below is applicable to most companies and covers basic health and safety requirements.

Adequate Ventilation

There must be good ventilation, a supply of fresh, clean air drawn from outside is required. It must be uncontaminated and circulated around the workspace.


In indoor workplaces, you must provide:
  • A reasonable Working Temperature, usually at least 16C, or 13C for strenuous work, (unless other laws require lower temperatures)
  • Local heating or cooling where a comfortable temperature cannot be maintained which is safe and does not give off dangerous or offensive fumes
  • Thermal clothing and rest facilities where necessary (for example, for 'hot work' or work in cold storage areas
  • Sufficient space in workrooms


You must provide:
  • Good light. Try to use natural light where possible but ensure you avoid glare
  • A good level of local lighting at workstations where necessary
  • Suitable forms of lighting. Some fluorescent tubes flicker and can be dangerous near rotating machinery
  • Special fittings for flammable or explosive atmospheres, e.g. from paint spraying

Cleanliness and Waste Materials

You must:
  • Provide clean premises, furniture and fittings
  • Provide clean floors and stairs which are not slippery
  • Provide containers for waste materials
  • Remove dirt, trade waste and refuse regularly
  • Clear up spillages promptly
  • Keep internal walls and ceilings clean

Room Space

Work rooms should have enough space to move about freely.

Work Stations and Seating

They must be suitable and fit the worker and the worker should be able to leave the work station quickly and easily in the event of an emergency. Make sure that:
  • Back rests support the small of the back and you must provide foot rests if necessary
  • Work surfaces are at a sensible height
  • There is easy access to controls on equipment

Maintenance of the Workplace and Equipment

You must have:
  • Buildings in good repair
  • Safe glazing, if necessary (e.g. painted, toughened or thick) which is marked to make it easy to see
  • Good drainage in wet processes
  • Weather protection for outdoor work spaces, if practical
  • Outdoor routes kept safe in icy conditions, e.g. salted, sanded or swept

There are other considerations as well. For example, the safe siting of machinery and furniture.

Floors and Traffic Routes

You must have:
  • Floors, corridors and stairs kept free of obstructions, e.g. trailing cables
  • Surfaces which are not slippery
  • Well-lit outside areas (which will also aid security)
  • Safe passages for pedestrians and vehicles
  • Level, even surfaces without holes or broken boards
  • Hand-rails on stairs and ramps where necessary
  • Safe doors, e.g. vision panels in swing doors and sensitive edges on power doors

Falls and Falling Objects

You must have precautions in place where people might fall from open edges, for example fencing or guard rails. You must also have floor openings fenced or covered when not in use, for example vehicle inspection pits.

Transparent and Translucent Doors, Gates or Walls and Windows

They must be made of safety material or protected against breakage. If there is a danger of people coming into direct contact with them, there should be Safety Signs or features to make them apparent.


You must have windows that can be opened and cleaned safely. They should be designed to stop people falling out or bumping into them when open. You may also need to fit anchor points if window cleaners have to use harnesses.

Other Doors and Gates

Should be suitably constructed and fitted with safety devices if necessary.

Escalators and Moving Walkways

Should function safely and be fitted with safety devices if necessary including one or more emergency stop buttons which are easily identifiable and accessible.

The Provision of Toilets and Washing Facilities

You must provide:
  • Clean well-ventilated toilets (separate rooms for men and women preferably, unless each convenience has its own lockable door
  • Wash basins with hot and cold (or warm) running water
  • Showers for dirty work or emergencies
  • Soap and towels (or a hand drier)
  • Special hygiene precautions where necessary, e.g. where food is handled or prepared

Drinking Water

You must provide a clean drinking water supply with an upward drinking jet or cups.

Accommodation for Clothing and Changing Facilities

You must provide lockers and hanging space for clothing and changing facilities where special clothing is worn. The facilities should also allow for drying clothes.

Facilities for Rest and to Eat Meals

You must supply rest facilities including the facilities for eating food which would otherwise become contaminated. Suitable rest facilities should be provided for Pregnant Women and nursing mothers. Rest areas and rooms should be protected for non-smokers from the discomfort caused by tobacco smoke.

These are all areas of general workplace safety that all companies must address. However, each company must ensure that their own individual health and safety procedures meet with the minimum legislation standards required of their specific place of employment.

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[Add a Comment]
We're required to wear uniforms: and all males/females share one locker room. Surely, this isn't right - ?
8jaykay - 6-Aug-18 @ 1:59 PM
I've been recently dismissed from my job because the management have reason to belive I've been stealing tobaccofrom the shop I worked at. Their is no cctv evidence as the camera overlooks the counter . Their is no lockers to secure my belongings ie purse bags
shaz - 13-Apr-18 @ 10:06 AM
My son who is a chef in a local lounge/dinerhas had his coat, jumper & trousers stolen from work, his wallet was in the jacket and this was also stolen. what responsibilities do his employer have to provide secure storage for his personal belongings at workas he obviously has to change out of his outside clothes to work in a kitchen environment?
ffc1879 - 1-Jan-18 @ 10:14 PM
Returning to work next week I am a baker in supermarket sector have been told I have to share a locker with a female colleague when I return I have been off sick for 3 months with a planned operation and had locker taken off me on last day at work and all uniforms placed on top of locker
Chivers - 6-Sep-16 @ 12:52 PM
I have just returned from a two week holiday from work, in the week and a half leading up to my annual leave I repeatedly asked for replacement safety boots as the ones I had were cracked and leaking. I was told they'd definitely be here on my return to work so after my last shift I binned the old ones. Lo and behold I turn up for my first shift back at the warehouse only to find there is no replacement safety boots for me and was therefore sent home. What are my rights regarding this, surely I should still have to be paid as i turned up ready to work but they are at fault for not having sufficient foot wear on the premises after being given plenty notification prior to this?
Mark54 - 14-Aug-16 @ 6:32 AM
I have no were to keep my wallet or keys whilst in work. Is it my employers responsibility to provide lockers?
Boo - 11-Apr-16 @ 2:24 AM
Jay - Your Question:
We have to wear uniform at work. Does employer have to provide lockers for us at our base office so we can hang or store our private clothes when coming to work? Thank you

Our Response:
No there is no requirement to do this, especially if your uniform is suitable for commuting.
SafeWorkers - 3-Feb-16 @ 11:29 AM
We have to wear uniform at work. Does employer have to provide lockers for us at our base office so we can hang or store our private clothes when coming to work? Thank you
Jay - 2-Feb-16 @ 8:08 AM
Janice Fogg - Your Question:
I had an accident at work in 2014, I now find out that this was never entered in the accident book even though it was reported. Can this be rectified?

Our Response:
Yes it should be entered into the records retrospectively.
SafeWorkers - 18-Aug-15 @ 10:13 AM
I had an accident at work in 2014, I now find out that this was never entered in the accident book even though it was reported.Can this be rectified?
Janice Fogg - 17-Aug-15 @ 2:09 PM
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