Employees’ health and safety responsibilities
As an employee you have rights and you have responsibilities for your own wellbeing and that of your colleagues. This article explains what these responsibilities are, and how you can meet them.
Your rights as an employee to work in a safe and healthy environment are set down in law and generally can’t be changed or removed by your employer. The most important of these rights are:
• as far as possible, to have any hazards to your health and safety properly controlled
• to be given any personal protective and safety equipment without being charged for it
• to stop work and leave your work area, without being disciplined, if you have reasonable concerns about your safety
• to tell your employer about any health and safety concerns you have
• not to be disciplined if you contact the Health and Safety Executive, or your local authority, if your employer won’t listen to you
• to have breaks during the time you are at work
• to have time off from work during the working week
• to have annual paid holiday.
Your most important responsibilities as an employee are:
• to take reasonable care of your own health and safety
• to remove jewellery and avoid loose clothing when operating machinery
• if you have long hair, or wear a headscarf, make sure it’s tucked out of the way as it could get caught in machinery
• to take reasonable care not to expose fellow employees and members of the public to risk by what you do or don’t do in the course of your work
• to co-operate with your employer, making sure you complete the training that is provided and that you understand and follow the company’s health and safety policies
• not to interfere with or misuse anything that’s been provided for your health, safety or welfare
• to report any injuries you suffer as a result of doing your job – your employer may then need to change the way you work.
If you drive or operate machinery, you have a responsibility to tell your employer if you take medication that makes you feel sleepy. If you do, they should temporarily move you to another job if they have one for you to do.