The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 places responsibilities on employers, employees, and the self-employed to have regard for the health and safety of themselves, people working for them and for others visiting their premises. Enforcement of the law is shared between the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Somerset Council.
The Health and Safety legislation applies to businesses of all sizes, 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 HSE website 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.
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.
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 on asbestos disposal 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.
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 in rivers, reservoirs and lakes – although this is usually in low numbers. 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 a person could fall a distance that would result in an injury, if there were no precautions in place,.
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.
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:
- Gas Safety in Hospitality Premises
- Gas Safety Ventilation
- Beverage Gases in 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. Always ask to see their Gas Safe Register ID card before any gas works are carried out.
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
If 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:
- COSHH and Beauticians
- Occupational asthma, respiratory issues and dermatitis in hairdressers and nail bars
- COSHH essentials for service and retail
- Health and Safety in Nail Bars
- HABIA Code of Practice for Nail Services
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.