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How the health and safety regulations should keep you safe

We all benefit from measures that the government and regulators have put in place over many years to keep us safe. Workplaces can be dangerous at times and health and safety legislation makes them safer for everyone.

Health and safety laws give employers excellent guidance on what is required of them, but unfortunately things do go wrong. With that in mind, we have put together this guide to help. It will help you understand what your employer and other businesses should do to protect your health and safety

If you have been in an accident at work or are suffering ill health due to your work, this information will help you decide if someone else is at fault. We know it isn't always clear cut however, so we are here to help. 

To find out whether you could make a claim, or to get confidential, obligation-free advice, please get in touch with our legally trained advisors on , or fill in our call back form and we'll call you back.

What are the main UK health and safety regulations?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 sets out the rules and regulations employers in England, Scotland and Wales should follow to keep you safe while you're at work. This covers a wide range of responsibilities that employers must take on. 

The Health and Safety at Work Act requires workplaces to keep their employees safe by:

  • Assessing and dealing with any risks to safety
  • Putting policies and procedures in place
  • Providing relevant information and training

As well as the 1974 act itself, subsequent regulations have expanded on the employers' duties. These include:

The Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (NI) 2000 impose similar duties on employers in Northern Ireland.  

Did you know?

Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show that for the year 2019/20:

  • 3.8 million workdays were lost due to work-related illness/injury.
  • 693,000 working people were injured at work.
  • 1.6 million working people suffered from a work-related illness.

What are an employer's responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974? 

Employers have the most responsibilities under the health and safety regulations. They have a legal obligation to keep their employees safe from harm. This means assessing and controlling risks to injury or health in the workplace.

But the workplace health and safety regulations aren't just to keep employees safe. Employers also have a duty of care to everyone who might be affected by their business. This includes contractors, temporary workers, customers and all visitors to the workspace.

Here are the main health and safety areas where your employer has responsibilities:

  • Risk assessments. A ‘suitable and sufficient' risk assessment should address all foreseeable health and safety risks that might cause harm in the workplace. The depth of risk assessments changes depending on the workplace. A small business with few or simple risks doesn't need to go into as much depth as a large or ‘high-hazard' business or site.  
  • Safety equipment. You should have suitable PPE (personal protective equipment) such as safety goggles and protective clothing where your job requires it. Your employer shouldn't charge you for this equipment. You should also have access to a first aid kit.
  • Premises and equipment maintenance. Your employer must make sure the place you work is safe and that equipment is in good condition. Any machinery you use must be well-maintained and safe to use.
  • Information about procedures. If your workplace employs five or more people, they should provide you with written health and safety procedures. Your employer should also prominently display the HSE-approved poster or provide each employee with the approved health and safety leaflet.
  • Health and safety training. Training should ensure that people have the ‘skills, knowledge and experience to carry out their duties correctly'. For example, if you use potentially dangerous machinery as part of your job, you should know how to use it safely. Training is especially important for new employees, or anyone exposed to a new or increased risk. 
  • Supervision. The role of supervisors and managers is important in ensuring workplace health and safety. They should make sure employees know how to work safely, and that they follow the organisation's health and safety rules
  • Consultation. Workplaces with five or more employees must consult with employees or their representatives (such as trade union reps) on relevant health and safety policy matters.

If you believe that an employer's failure to meet their responsibilities led to your accident, call us today for free, impartial advice on  or fill in our call back form. We'll be happy to answer your questions and help you understand whether you could make a claim.


Workplace accidents often happen because employers fail to follow health and safety rules. The Health and Safety Executive may investigate and take action, but this won't automatically lead to compensation for the injured person.

Whether it's compensating for lost earnings, medical costs, or psychological trauma, a successful work injury claim can get you the compensation you deserve. It's a way to make up for what happened, and our claims team and solicitors can help you get there.

Natalie Maxwell

Head of Technical Claims

Who is liable if an accident happens?

Employers have a legal duty to keep people safe and will usually be liable if they don't meet their obligations. But that doesn't mean they are the only ones with responsibility for health and safety. Members of staff also have a duty to take care of their own health and safety - and of others affected by their actions at work.

As an employee, you must cooperate with your employer and colleagues in following health and safety policies and procedures. Everyone in a workplace - bosses, managers and workers - should work together to ensure a safe environment. This HSE guide for workers provides more information.

If you have an accident because of a colleague's negligence, you may be able to make a claim. This is known as ‘vicarious liability'; a situation where the employer is answerable for their employees' actions. 

Have you had an accident at work and are unsure about who was responsible? You can get in touch with us on  for free advice, or fill in our call back form and we'll call you back.

Frequently asked questions...

By talking to an expert accident claim company at the earliest available moment. We can give you all the initial free advice you need to help you make the right decision. If you want to go ahead with the claim, we'll then put you in touch with an experienced and trusted firm in our nationwide network of approved legal practices. 

Provided they can take on your claim under no win no fee arrangements - as is the case in all but the most exceptional circumstances - there are no up-front costs.  Your solicitor may need to take out special legal protection insurance for you, which pays the costs if your claim fails, and ensures claiming is risk free. The cost of this is only taken if you win your case. You’ll never have to pay anything upfront and there are no hidden charges, so you’ll never be out of pocket.

If your accident claim is successful you’ll be asked to pay any costs and expenses, not paid for by the other side, from your compensation. We guarantee you’ll never pay more than 35% of your damages.

No. UK employment law protects you from any disciplinary action, whether overt or underhand. Employers are legally required to have insurance in place to cover negligent injury to their people. In a successful back injury compensation claim, the insurance company providing the cover will pay back injury compensation, not the employer. That ensures no-one is hit with a bill they can’t pay.

It’s simple. Employer’s liability insurance covers the damages in a successful work injury compensation claim. 

This means the solicitor negotiates on your behalf with the employer’s insurance company, not personally with the employer. Be wary about accepting an early offer from the other side’s insurance company. 

Early offers are usually lower than what the claim might be worth so make sure you take good advice. 

Come and talk to us first.

Who is responsible for enforcing workplace health and safety?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforces the Health and Safety at Work Act in England, Scotland and Wales. The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) carries out an equivalent role in Northern Ireland. 

These independent regulators have legal powers to:

  • Visit and inspect workplaces.
  • Check on health and safety policy.
  • Assess whether serious risks are being properly managed. 
  • Carry out investigations when things go wrong.
  • Issue permission and licenses for activity in the most hazardous industries.

The HSE and HSENI also help to review and shape health and safety legislation and regulations to ensure they remain fair. Perhaps most importantly of all, they provide free information, guidance and advice to employers. This helps employers to understand the risks to their employees and comply with the law.

The 380+ local authorities across the UK also play their part in enforcement. In fact, they are the main enforcing bodies for businesses including offices, shops, warehouses, hotels, restaurants, and leisure and entertainment facilities.

Do you think that your employer is exposing you to risks, or that they are not meeting their legal health and safety duties? If so, you should initially raise your concerns with them. If you don't receive a satisfactory response or see any changes, you can make a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

If you are involved in an accident at work, please make sure that you report it to your employer, regardless of whether you get in touch with the HSE yourself. Your employer has a duty to report certain health and safety incidents to the HSE, so you need to provide your employer with full details of what happened.

Have you been in an accident at work?

If you have been in an accident in your workplace, we may be able to help you make a claim for compensation to put things right. Below are some common types of work injuries we can help you with. Don't worry if your experience isn't listed here. It's likely we can still help you and we recommend calling us on  so we can discuss your injury and whether you have a case for compensation.

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What if I have an accident at a business or in a public place?

The Health and Safety at Work Act covers an employer's responsibility to ensure the safety of any non-employees that their activity might affect. This includes members of the public and other visitors.

Owners of businesses such as shops, supermarkets, bars and restaurants must take steps to keep you from getting injured. If a business or company has not followed health and safety rules, then this can cause accidents which can lead to painful injuries.

Businesses need to keep corridors and walkways clear of obstacles to avoid slips, trips and falls. They should also clean up spillages as quickly as possible and place warning signs for slippery surfaces. Changes in floor level without a warning sign, or poor lighting conditions, can also cause injury.

Roads and pavements are another place where others have a duty of care to keep you safe. Your local council or Highways Agency are responsible for this. If the surfaces aren't properly maintained, then this can cause road traffic accidents.

If you have been injured in an accident we may be able to help you to make a compensation claim to cover the costs of your injury.

Why choose National Accident Helpline?

Trusted, confidential and compassionate support.
We've handled over 250,000 workplace claims.
UK-wide network of specialist workplace injury solicitors.
years_since years of experience handling work accident claims.

The first step is to find out whether you have a claim. This doesn't have to be a difficult step for you, as you can talk for free and with no obligation to one of our legally trained advisors. 

During your call we'll ask you some questions about your experience so we can get a better idea of what happened and whether we can help you. There's no pressure to start a claim. But if you decide to go ahead, we can connect you with one of our specialist solicitors. We take the hard work out of finding the right solicitor so that you can focus on your recovery.

Your solicitor will take all the impacts of your injury into account and look at whether the other party's failure to follow health and safety legislation was a factor. They'll make sure you know what to expect, and can usually make your claim on a no win no fee basis.

Your specialist solicitor will then get in touch with the other party and negotiate on your behalf. They'll stay in touch, keep you updated on progress, and will do their best to win the full amount of compensation you deserve.

You can get in touch with us on  for a free chat, or fill in our call back form and we'll call you back.

How we choose our solicitors to handle your claims

How we choose our solicitors to handle your claims