Health and safety at work

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 expand the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to provide and maintain a safe workplace.

The regulations are intended to protect the health and safety of everyone in the workplace, and to ensure that adequate welfare facilities are provided for people at work.

In order to meet the health, safety and welfare needs of all members of the workforce, including people with disabilities the following issues must be considered:


  • Ventilation – workrooms must be adequately ventilated by a supply of fresh, clean air
  • Temperature – in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. However, where this is not practical due to hot/cold processes, all reasonable steps must be taken to achieve a comfortable temperature
  • Lighting – should be sufficient to enable people to work and move about safely. If necessary, local lighting should be provided at individual workstations and at places of particular risk such as crossing points on traffic routes
  • Cleanliness and waste materials – fixtures, fittings and the surfaces of walls, floors and ceilings must be kept in a clean condition at all times. Waste should be stored in suitable receptacles and removed as necessary
  • Room dimensions and space – should have enough free space to allow people to move about with ease. It is considered that 11 cubic metres per person is sufficient however, this depends on the layout and nature of the work
  • Workstations and Seating – adequate workstations and suitable/adjustable seating (where necessary) should be provided for employees. Employees should be able to leave workstations swiftly in an emergency
  • Maintenance – the workplace, fixtures and fittings, for example, mechanical ventilation systems, roller shutter doors racking should be maintained in efficient working order
  • Floors and traffic routes – traffic routes being pedestrian/vehicular routes, including stairs, fixed ladders, doorways, gateways, loading bays or ramps. Floors and traffic routes should be of sufficient width, strength, suitably marked and fenced where necessary. Floor surfaces should not have holes, be uneven or slippery and should be kept clear of obstructions. Ideally vehicular routes should be one way to eliminate reversing manoeuvres with speed limits imposed
  • Transparent doors, gates, walls, windows – should be made of a safety material or be protected against breakage. If there is danger of people coming into contact with it, it should be marked or incorporate features to make it apparent
  • Windows/skylights – it should be possible to access these safely to open them using windows poles or other equipment where necessary. They should not present a hazard whilst open. Where they cannot be cleaned from ground level then suitable provisions should be made such as tilt and turn windows, suspended cradles, mobile access equipment, safety harnesses
  • Doors and gates – should be suitably constructed and fitted with safety devices where necessary. Where fitted on main traffic routes, swinging both ways and conventionally hinged they should be fitted with a transparent viewing panel. Powered doors must include an emergency stop control and the safety features properly maintained
  • Escalators and moving walkways – should function safely, be equipped with any necessary safety devices, and be fitted with one or more emergency stop controls which are easily identifiable and readily accessible.

Employee welfare

  • Toilets and washing facilities – should be kept clean, adequately ventilated and lit. Washing facilities should have hot and cold running water, soap and clean towels or other means of cleaning or drying. Showers may also need to be provided depending on the nature of the work
  • Drinking water – ideally wholesome water from the mains water supply. Water may be provided by means of bottled water or from refillable enclosed containers provided they are refilled at least daily. (unless they are chilled water dispensers where the containers are returned to the supplier for refilling)
  • Changing facilities/clothing storage – should be provided for those who change into special work clothing. The facilities should be private and readily accessible from workrooms, washrooms and rest rooms
  • Facilities for rest and eating meals – should be provided for employees to take breaks and eat food away from the workplace where there is a risk of contamination. Canteens or restaurants may be used as rest facilities providing there is no obligation to purchase food. Suitable rest facilities should be provided for pregnant women and nursing mothers. They should be near to sanitary facilities and where necessary, include the facility to lie down.

First aid at work

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be given to employees if they are injured or become ill at work. These Regulations apply to all workplaces and the self-employed. The HSE website has further information on First aid in the workplace

Further information

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website also offers lots of information for new businesses who are starting up, or who just want to find out what they must do to comply with health and safety legislation. Their Health and Safety Toolbox on their website lets you look for information on specific health and safety issues.


For further information contact:

Health and Safety Executive
Government Buildings
Phase 1
CF14 5JH
Tel: 02920 263000

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