General Workplace Safety

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.

Temperature

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

Lighting

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.

Windows

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.

Last Updated on 25 May 2021

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