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Health And Safety At Work: Your Rights As An Employee

As an employee, your health and safety is safeguarded by the law. It does not matter whether you work full-time, part-time or are a temporary member of staff; if you are a paid member of staff, your employer has a duty to protect your health, safety and welfare while at work.

In this article we explore these rights in more details, explaining what your health and safety rights are as an employee, what information you should be given and what your employer must provide free of charge.

What are your health and safety rights as an employee?

All employees have the right to:-

  • Work in places where all risks to health and safety are properly controlled;
  • Stop working and leave the area if there is a potential hazard;
  • Inform an employer of any health and safety issues or concerns;
  • Contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or a local authority if health and safety concerns are not addressed;
  • Join a trade union and be a safety representative (with paid time off for training);
  • A 20 minute rest break after working a stretch of six hours;
  • An annual period of paid leave.

Nevertheless, as an employee you too have legal responsibilities to which you must comply. You must:-

  • Take care of your own health and safety, and of those who may be affected by your actions (or inactions);
  • Co-operate with others on health and safety;
  • Not interfere or misuse anything which is there is protect your health, safety and welfare.

What information should your employer offer you?

Your employer should equip you with information that will help promote your health and safety. This includes information regarding:-

  • Risks to health and safety posed by working practices;
  • Changes to working practices that may affect health and safety;
  • How to perform the job correctly and safety;
  • What is being done to protect health and safety;
  • Where to find first-aid treatment at work;
  • What to do in an emergency.

Your employer should also make certain documentation available in the workplace, including:-

  • A copy of their health and safety policy;
  • A current Employer's Liability certificate.

What should your employer provide?

Lastly, your employer must provide the following, free of charge:-

  • Training to ensure the job is performed correctly and safely;
  • Protective equipment, if necessary (such as clothing, masks and goggles);
  • Health checks if work is thought to be affecting your health;
  • Regular health checks for those who work nights.

What if your health and safety rights are breached?

If your employer is failing to meet your health and safety rights, he or she will have breached their legal duty of care towards you. If you are injured as a result of this negligence, you will have been wrongfully harmed. This makes you a victim of personal injury in the eyes of the law, meaning you will be entitled to claim compensation the damage you have incurred.

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