Health and Safety

Under Health and Safety legislation, all employers have a legal duty to provide a safe and healthy environment for their employees, volunteers, committee members and service users.

The Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974, often referred to as HASAW or HSW, is the main piece of UK health and safety legislation. It sets out requirements for employers for the:-

  • safe operation and maintenance of the working environment, plant and systems
  • maintenance of safe access to and from the workplace
  • safe use, handling and storage of dangerous substances
  • adequate training of staff to ensure health and safety
  • adequate welfare provisions for staff at work

Health and Safety obligations include:-

  • carrying out risk assessments
  • providing relevant liability insurances
  • meeting fire regulations
  • ensuring staff/volunteers are aware of your Health and Safety Policy, First Aid requirements and displaying the Health and Safety Law poster.

The Health and Safety Executive website "guidance section" provides detailed information on requirements - see further sources of information below.

Who is responsible? 

If your group or organisation employs staff (paid or unpaid) your committee members or Board of Directors will have legal responsibilities under Health and Safety legislation to provide a safe and healthy working environment and to manage the health and safety risks for the people involved in the delivery of your services or activities (staff and volunteers) and for the people accessing your services or activities (the public).

If you have employees that work from home, carrying out low risk - office type work the employer will only be responsible for the equipment it supplies.  Work activities at home involving more risk will need much greater assessment of the risks involved.

If you have 5 or more employees your community group/organisation will be legally required to adopt a written Health and Safety Policy and to consult with employees or their representatives on policies. Even if your group has less than five staff, as an employer your committee or board members still have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working environment, and it is best practice to adopt a Health and Safety policy.

Irrespective of the size or structure of your group (or whether or not you are a registered charity) your committee will at the very least have a 'duty of care' towards volunteers and members to provide a safe environment where levels of risk have been reduced to a minimum. 

Your committee members or Board of Directors should agree who will be the appropriate member to act as co-ordinator for health and safety matters within your organisation.  This person should:-

  • implement any measures agreed (these may be set out in your Health and Safety Policy)
  • ensure there is clear advice for staff/volunteers/committee members, and the public using your services, about risks
  • ensure everyone receives information on your agreed Health and Safety procedures 
  • ensure your staff and volunteers receive adequate training on the use of equipment

Other Community Toolkit Topics to look at:



Further sources of information

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Last Updated 19/04/2013 16:52