Health and safety basics for business

Employers' health and safety responsibilities


Health and safety laws apply to all businesses, no matter how small. As an employer, or a self-employed person, you are responsible for health and safety in your business. You need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of workplace dangers. you must provide a safe working environment.

Decide who will help you with your duties

As an employer, you must appoint a competent person to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.

You could appoint (one or a combination of):

  • yourself
  • one or more of your workers
  • someone from outside your business

Write a health and safety policy for your business

Describing how you will manage your health and safety in your business will let your staff and others know about your commitment to health and safety. This will be your health and safety policy. See write a health and safety policy for your business.

Manage the risks in your business

You should use a health and safety risk assessment as the main tool to identify workplace hazards. It will also allow you to put measures in place to control and minimise the hazards and risks you find.

Consult your employees

You should find out what your employees and their representatives think about any changes that might affect their health and safety. See consult your employees on health and safety.

Provide training and information

Everyone who works for you needs to know how to work safely and without risks to health. it's your duty to provide health and safety training.

Provide the right workplace facilities

Every workplace must meet some basic standards of comfort and sanitation. See workplace welfare facilities and healthy working environment

First aid, accidents and ill health

Under health and safety law you must report and keep a record of certain injuries, incidents and cases of work-related disease. See first aid, accidents and illness in the workplace.

Display the health and safety law poster

If you employ anyone, you must display the health and safety law poster, or provide each worker with a copy of the equivalent pocket card. You must display the poster where your workers can easily read it. Download the pocketcard (PDF, 182K).

The poster outlines British health and safety laws and includes a straightforward list that tells workers what they and their employers need to do. You could also add details of any employee safety representatives or health and safety contacts.

Register your business

You may need to apply for a licence or notify the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) or your local authority if you business:

  • works with hazardous substances such as asbestos or explosives
  • works in a hazardous industry like diving

For more information, see managing hazardous substances.

To notify the HSENI you can call the HSENI Helpline on Tel 0800 032 0121. See local council contact details in Northern Ireland

Get insurance for your business

If your business has employees you will probably need employers' liability insurance. See liability insurance for your business.

Keep up to date

Following news and events in your industry will help you keep your health and safety policies and risk assessments up to date. HSENI provide several services to businesses to help keep up to date: