• Employee's Health and Safety Responsibilities Mar 12, 2020
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    Employers have legal obligations to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.

    As an employee, you have rights, and you have responsibilities for your own wellbeing and that of your colleagues. Here we explain what these responsibilities are, and how you can meet them.

    Your Rights

    Your rights as an employee to work in a safe and healthy environment are given to you by law, and generally can't be changed or removed by your employer.

    The most important rights are:
    • as far as possible, to have any risks to your health and safety properly controlled
    • to be provided, free of charge, with any personal protective and safety equipment
    • if you have reasonable concerns about your safety, to stop work and leave your work area, without being disciplined
    • to tell your employer about any health and safety concerns you have
    • to get in touch with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in Northern Ireland the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), or your local authority if your employer won't listen to your concerns, without being disciplined
    • to have rest breaks during the working day, to have time off from work during the working week, and to have annual paid holiday
    Your Responsibilities

    Your most important responsibilities as an employee are:
    • to take reasonable care of your own health and safety
    • if possible avoid wearing jewellery or loose clothing if operating machinery
    • if you have long hair or wear a headscarf, make sure it's tucked out of the way (it could get caught in machinery)
    • to take reasonable care not to put other people - fellow employees and members of the public - at risk by what you do or don't do in the course of your work
    • to co-operate with your employer, making sure you get proper training and 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, strains or illnesses you suffer as a result of doing your job (your employer may need to change the way you work)
    • to tell your employer if something happens that might affect your ability to work (eg becoming pregnant or suffering an injury). Because your employer has a legal responsibility for your health and safety, they may need to suspend you while they find a solution to the problem, but you will normally be paid if this happens
    • if you drive or operate machinery, to tell your employer if you take medication that makes you drowsy - they should temporarily move you to another job if they have one for you to do.
    Personal Protective Equipment

    Your employer must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to you free of charge. You must use this correctly, and follow the training and instruction you've been given.

    In some jobs, failure to use PPE properly can be grounds for disciplinary action or even dismissal. However, you can refuse to wear PPE if it puts your safety at risk (eg PPE of the wrong size could put you at risk because of its poor fit). Ask your employer or the firm's safety representative for the right size (which must be provided free of charge).

    Sikhs who wear turbans can legally refuse to wear head protection on religious grounds, but Sikhs who don't wear turbans must wear head protection.
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