Workplace safety rights and responsibilities

Being safe whilst you are working is a joint operation between employees and employers, as well as being a legal responsibility. Having an accident at work can be a life-altering experience so health and safety measures must be taken seriously.

The construction industry is statistically the most dangerous, with 45 fatal injuries last year. Other industries with fatalities include manufacturing, transport and storage, and administration and support services. This highlights how important it is to have robust safety procedures in place and up-to-date training. This shows that accidents are not confined to stereotypically dangerous industries.

Your rights as an employee

As a worker in the UK, you have certain rights that are protected by law. One of the most obvious rights is that you must receive at least minimum wage for your services. There are safety measures that are protected by law as well.

The right to work in a safe environment is stated in law which means you can leave if you feel an environment is unsafe. There should be adequate first aid stations as well as access to suitable toilets and drinking water.

You also have the right to appropriate rest breaks. This means that if you work for more than 6 hours in one go you are entitled to a break of at least 20 minutes. A break ensures you can rest and refocus which is especially important in precise or repetitive tasks.

As an employee, you have the right to be able to seek legal advice for any accidents that do occur at work. If you feel this has happened to you, find a reputable firm of lawyers and see if you are entitled to compensation.

Employee responsibilities

As much as your employer is responsible for creating a safe working environment, there are things that you need to consider as well.

Working with machinery can cause accidents if you are not careful. If you have longer hair, make sure it is tied up or covered to prevent it from getting caught in the machine. Jewellery should not be worn around these machines for the same reason.

You also have a responsibility to report any unsafe practices you witness or changes in your health to your employer. For example, if you start taking medication, such as antihistamines, that may make you feel drowsy, your employer needs to know to keep everyone safe. Similarly, if you suffer an injury or are pregnant, you need to inform your manager to allow them to make reasonable adjustments to keep you safe whilst working.

Employer responsibilities

Employers have legal responsibilities to keep their staff safe. Any safety procedures must be explained properly to all staff as well as highlighting any risks with proposed or established procedures.

If there are any risks, they need to be properly documented and handled within the company. It should be clear to all workers who are responsible for all risks. First aiders must be appointed and clear to all as well.

Your employer should be providing you with any protective equipment for free as well as ensuring they are properly maintained and fit for use. If there are any issues report them to your manager immediately.

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