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Occupational safety

Man wearing hard hat

Occupational safety covers topics relating to safety, for example the prevention of accidents.

Employers are charged with a duty to undertake a risk assessment and determine what hazards are present within their businesses and implement control measures to prevent accidents occurring.

Electrical safety

Electricity is a familiar and necessary part of everyday life, but electricity can kill or severely injure people and cause damage to property.

There are simple precautions when working with, or near electricity that can be taken to significantly reduce the risk of electrical injury to you and others around you.

The Health and Safety Executive - Electricity Index covers electrical safety at work.

Falls from height

Falls from height are the single biggest cause of workplace fatality in the UK. - The Work at Height Regulations 2005 now govern all work at height.

For more information please visit Health and Safety Executive - Work at Heights.

To prevent falls from heights risk assessments must be undertaken and consideration must be given to the following:

1. Reducing the amount of cleaning and maintenance at high level by altering the layout and design of the building e.g. ensuring effective dust and fume extraction, reducing the number of ledges where dust can accumulate, and ensuring adequate platforms or permanent fixtures are provided for working from

2. Use jet cleaners for high structure cleaning

3. If work is absolutely necessary at height then ensure that there is a safe system of work in place such as mobile scaffolds being constructed and used properly

4. Ensure that staff do not use fork lift trucks or a pallet mounted on forks etc for providing a quick lift up to the task in hand

5. Ensure that all equipment required for sampling or checking is located at ground level. If this is not possible then permanent access steps or platforms should be provided and adequate handrails

6. Providing good cleaning regimes

7. Appropriate slip resistant footwear to the correct British Standard

8. Ensuring stair routes do not become contaminated with debris or other obstructions

Edge protection

Appropriate pre-cautions must be taken to prevent people falling from the edges of roofs and other edges where there is a risk of falling and sustaining serious injury.

Where there is a risk of falling, edge protection consisting of suitable guard rails and toe boards will normally be required. Exceptionally, reliance may be placed on fall arrest equipment, for example safety harnesses. However you must undertake a thorough work at height risk assessment to justify this.

Typically edges that would require edge protection might include:

  • roofs on which people periodically work (e.g. maintenance workers)
  • loading bays
  • mezzanine floors


On average 14 people a year die at work falling from ladders and nearly 1200 suffer major injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive - Safe Use of Ladders and Step Ladders cover the use of ladders safely.

Mobile Elevated Working Platforms

The Health and Safety Executive - Mobile Elevating Work Platforms provide comprehensive information on Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs). - The Construction Regulations 2007 states that all hazards with a MEWP must be properly controlled.

Gas safety - The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 place a number of duties on employers to ensure that The Gas installation is used and maintained safely.

To comply with this duty, as a minimum, employers will need to;

  • ensure that all gas appliances, installation pipework and flues installed at the premises are inspected by a Gas Safe Engineer and maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent risk of injury to any person.
  • ensure that any new gas equipment is installed by a Gas Safe Engineer (including second-hand equipment that is new to the premises)
  • ensure that the ventilation systems are suitable and sufficient and are always working when the gas appliances are lit.
  • ensure that any defects in the equipment are fixed quickly (Common defects include knobs becoming stiff or falling off, ignition switches failing or gas hoses becoming damaged or worn)
  • keep all records of inspection for at least two years, to demonstrate that you are having the checks undertaken.
  • ensure that all works are undertaken by a competent Gas Safe Engineer, that is qualified to work on your equipment.

Gas Safe Register is the official list of businesses that are legally permitted to carry out gas work.

Every registered business employs an engineer(s), who is issued with a Gas Safe Register - Gas Safe ID card. Not all engineers are qualified to do all types of gas work - so remember to check their ID card before any work is carried out.

In a Gas Emergency please call: 0800 111 999.

Machinery at work - The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulation's 1998 are the main regulations that govern the use of equipment at work.

The Regulation's require that equipment provided for use at work is:

  • suitable for the intended use safe for use,
  • maintained in a safe condition and, in certain circumstances, inspected to ensure this remains the case,
  • used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training; and
  • accompanied by suitable safety measures, eg protective devices, markings, warnings.

Pressure systems - The Pressure System Safety Regulation's 2000 require the user of an installed pressure system to have their pressure system examined by a competent person.

An installed pressure system is defined as any system containing a relevant fluid (such as compressed air or liquefied gas) at a pressure greater than 0.5bar (about 7psi) above atmospheric.

Health and Safety Executive - Pressure Systems provide comprehensive guidance on pressure systems.

Work related violence

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related violence as:

Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.

This can include verbal abuse or threats as well as physical attacks.

Health and Safety Executive - Violence and aggression at work provides practical steps to risk assessment for work-related violence. Along with a comprehensive guide on Health and Safety Executive - Work-Related Violence.

Personal protective equipment

Health and Safety Executive - Personal Protective Equipment at Work lay down the requirements for employers with regard to the provision, use and maintenance of person protective equipment (PPE) in the workplace.

PPE may be eye, head and foot protection, high visibility clothing or life jackets to name just a few.

PPE should only be used as a last resort, other systems of work or guards etc must be used before PPE.

Slips and trips

Slips and trips are the most common cause of major injuries at work. They occur in almost all workplaces, 95% of major slips result in broken bones and they can also be the initial causes for a range of other accident types such as falls from height.

Stats on slips and trips

  • 33% of all reported major injuries
  • 20% of over-3-day injuries to employees
  • 2 fatalities per year
  • 50% of all reported accidents are to members of the public
  • cost to employers £512 million per year
  • cost to health service £133 million per year

Effective solutions are often simple, cheap and can form part of a system to manage preventative measures which control slip and trip risks.

The Health and Safety Executive - Slips and Trips provide slips and trips frequently asked questions.

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