Building Health and Safety FAQS

Frequently asked questions about building health and safety in the workplace.

What is the health and safety law covering the workplace?

The two main pieces of health and safety legislation for businesses in the UK are The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. These place duties on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all persons whilst at work.

There are also secondary pieces of legislation covering specific hazards in more detail. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 cover the requirement to provide a safe and healthy work environment.

Does health and safety legislation apply to office premises?

Employers and landlords have a legal responsibility to protect the safety and health of everyone affected by their organisation or undertaking (employees, visitors, contractors etc.).

Although office premises are considered a lower risk environment, considerations include harm in the use of display screen equipment (DSE) potential causes of accidents such slips, trips and falls due to trailing cables trailing cables, fire risks, hazardous substances and facilities management and maintenance.

What safety precautions do I need to take for visitors?

Your risk assessments should identify any risks to visitors and contractors, and suitable control measures should be put in place to protect them.

Am I required to have first aid kits and trained first aiders?

The Regulations still apply to homeworkers and agile workers. Employers must ensure workstation and workplace assessments are undertaken, the findings recorded and controls put in place. Employees will require a health and safety training course that helps them understand what they are expected to do and the actions to be taken to protect themselves from harm.

Using a workstation assessment tool such as the WA+ hosted on the SHINE platform allows your home and agile workers and DSE users to express their opinions about the issues associated with their tasks, work activity and the suitability of the workstation via a secure cloud-based risk management system.

Is there a minimum and maximum working temperature?

The Approved Code of Practice from the HSE suggests the minimum temperature for working indoors should be at least 16°C or 13°C if much of the work involves rigorous physical effort. There is no upper limit specified however the employer must ensure that the temperature is reasonable and that might be achieved through a variety of measures such as air conditioning, working hours and size of occupation in the premises.

What are the laws on smoking in the workplace?

Smoking is banned in any enclosed workplace and public building in the UK.

The HSE recommends employers have a specific policy for smoking in the workplace and consult employees on a suitable policy to suit their workplace.