The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 places responsibilities on employers, employees, and the self-employed to have regard for their own health and safety, that of others working for them, and for other people visiting their premises. Enforcement of the law is shared between the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Somerset Council.

The Health and Safety legislation applies to all businesses, however small, to the self-employed and to employees. If you are a small or medium sized business needing advice on health and safety in the workplace, the ABC Guide to Health and Safety has tools and guidance to help you understand what you need to do whilst avoiding unnecessary paperwork and effort.

The Safer Workplace, Better Business workbook provides a comprehensive guide to meeting your legal and moral health and safety obligations. For more information, visit the HSE website.

Small Business Health Protection Advice

Many businesses struggle with Health and Safety and Food Safety documentation. Before you approach a consultant, consider managing your own risks. Both the HSE and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) provides tools which will help you, visit our Small Business Health Protection Advice page for more information.

Enforcement and prosecution

If a business has been prosecuted for a health and safety breach, details will be published on the HSE Register of convictions and notices.

The Somerset Council’s enforcement policy can be found on our Fixed penalty notices page.

Managing asbestos

If you own or occupy a non-domestic industrial, commercial, or public premises, such as a factory, warehouse, office, shop, hospital, or school, you have a duty to assess the building for asbestos and implement a management plan.

This is done by:

  • Finding out if asbestos is present in the premises.
  • Keeping a record of the location and condition of the asbestos or any materials which are thought to contain asbestos.
  • Assessing the risk of anyone being exposed to the materials identified, for example staff, contractors, or the public.
  • Making an “asbestos management plan” that sets out how the risks from these materials will be managed and regularly reviewing this plan to check that adequate arrangements are in place.
  • Providing information on the location and condition of the asbestos material to anyone who may come into contact with it, such as building contractors, surveyors, and architects.
  • Liaising with landlords who have a duty to pass on this information to their tenants. Tenants must also cooperate with their landlord, including allowing access to their home.
  • Arranging for the safe and proper disposal of asbestos materials. Guidance can be found here.

Non-domestic premises can also include ‘common’ areas such as foyers, corridors, lifts, staircases, roof spaces, gardens, outhouses, and garages.

Guidance about asbestos and its dangers are available from the HSE Asbestos health and safety page.

Managing legionella

As an employer, controller of a premises or a landlord, you have a duty to identify and manage any legionella risks.

Legionella bacteria can be found, usually in low numbers, in rivers, reservoirs and lakes. As they are found in natural water sources, the bacteria may eventually colonise in manufactured water systems, particularly hot and cold water systems, cooling towers and other equipment that stores water.

Legionnaires’ disease is normally contracted by inhaling legionella bacteria, either in droplets of water or ingesting contaminated water. It can lead to a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

Working at height

Work at height‘ means work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance that would result in an injury.

It is one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries in the workplace.

Common cases include falls from ladders and through fragile surfaces.

Gas safety

If you own or run a commercial catering premises, the proper installation, maintenance, and inspection by a Gas Safe registered engineer is essential. This is to make sure you, your staff and your customers are protected from exposure to carbon monoxide gas.

See below for gas information sheets for the hospitality industry:

By law, gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register as a registered commercial gas engineer with the appropriate authorisation to work on your type of equipment.

Every gas engineer carries a Gas Safe Register ID card with their own unique licence number, showing the type of gas they are qualified to work with. Before, any gas works are carried out, always ask to see their Gas Safe Register ID card.

Preventing and controlling illness

If you are an owner, operator, or manager of a visitor attraction, use the Code of Practice to help prevent or control illness at your attraction.

It gives guidance, including pictures and real-life case studies, of practical measures that you can use at your premises to help you comply with the law and keep your visitors safe.

Hairdressers, nail bars and microblading

f you are a hairdresser, please visit the HSE page for health and safety information.

If you own or run a nail bar, use the guidance below to make sure that you are operating good health and safety practises:

Helpful information about microblading is available to view below:

Bouncy Castles and other play inflatables

Following a number of tragic fatalities involving a child and an inflatable amusement device, the HSE has published revised guidance for industry stakeholders and operators of inflatable equipment.

Swimming Pools, Hot Tubs and Spas

The hot tub safety toolkit has been developed by Trading Standards to help tourism operators provide a safe experience for their guests.

Last reviewed: May 31, 2023 by Jenny

Next review due: December 1, 2023

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