Workplaces must provide a safe and healthy environment for workers and take their welfare needs (facilities e.g. those that are necessary for the well-being of workers, such as washing, toilet, rest and changing facilities, and somewhere clean to eat and drink during breaks) into account.

This applies to a very wide range of workplaces – not only factories, shops and offices but also schools, hospitals, hotels and places of entertainment etc.

What does the workplace cover?

This would depend on national legislation but often the workplace means any premises or part of a premises which are made available to any person as a place of work, domestic premises may also be included, in this is the case the following publication may be useful Labour inspection and other compliance mechanisms in the domestic work sector

The term workplace may include the common parts of shared buildings, private roads and paths on industrial estates and business parks.

Employers must consider, for example, lighting, ventilation, temperature, toilets and washing facilities.

They must also consider the needs of people with disabilities who may have specific needs, for example adapted toilet and washing facilities, wide doorways and gangways.

A safe place of work

What should employers do?

  • make sure their buildings are in good repair;
  • maintain the workplace and any equipment so that it is safe and works efficiently;
  • correct dangerous situations immediately, or take steps to protect anyone at risk;
  • take precautions to prevent people or materials falling from open edges, e.g. fencing or guard rails;
  • fence or cover floor openings, e.g. vehicle examination pits, when not in use;
  • have enough space for safe movement and access for workers, for goods in and out, emergency services – fire engines and ambulances etc.;
  • provide safety glass, if necessary;
  • make sure floors, corridors and stairs etc. are free of obstructions, e.g. trailing cables;
  • provide good drainage in wet processes;
  • make sure any windows capable of being opened can be opened, closed or adjusted safely;
  • make sure all windows and skylights are designed and constructed so that they may be cleaned safely (they may need to fit anchor points if window cleaners have to use harnesses);
  • minimize risks caused by snow and ice on outdoor routes, e.g. use salt or sand and sweep them

More information


Employers must provide:
  • good light – using natural light where possible but avoiding glare;
  • a good level of local lighting at workstations where necessary;
  • suitable forms of emergency lighting;
  • well-lit stairs and corridors;
  • well-lit outside areas – for pedestrians and to help with work activities such as loading/unloading at night.

Moving around the premises

Employers must have:
  • safe passage for pedestrians and vehicles – separate routes may be necessary;
  • level, even floors and surfaces without holes or broken boards;
  • hand-rails on stairs and ramps where necessary;
  • safely constructed doors and gates;
  • floors and surfaces which are not slippery.


Employers must:
  • provide clean floors and stairs, with effective drainage where necessary;
  • provide clean premises, furniture and fittings;
  • provide containers for waste materials;
  • remove dirt, refuse and trade waste regularly;
  • clear up spillages promptly;
  • keep internal walls or ceilings clean.

Hygiene and welfare

Employers must provide:
  • clean toilets and hand basins, preferably with running hot and cold or warm water, soap and towels or other suitable means of drying;
  • clean safe drinking water;
  • somewhere to rest and eat meals, including facilities for eating food which would otherwise become contaminated;
  • showers for dirty work or emergencies;
  • drying facilities for wet clothes, if practical and necessary;
  • accommodation or hanging space for personal clothing not worn at work (and somewhere to change if special clothing is worn at work);
  • rest facilities for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

In some circumstances the risk assessment will highlight the need to provide additional specific controls, for example:
  • skin cleansers, with nail brushes;
  • barrier cream and skin-conditioning cream where necessary;
  • certain facilities for workers working away from base, e.g. chemical toilets in some circumstances.

Safe and reasonable environmental conditions

Employers must provide:
  • a reasonable working temperature within workplaces inside buildings;
  • local heating or cooling where a comfortable temperature cannot be maintained throughout each workroom (e.g. hot and cold processes);
  • good ventilation – a sufficient supply of fresh, clean air drawn from outside or a ventilation system;
  • heating systems which do not give off dangerous or offensive levels of fume into the workplace;
  • enough workspace, including suitable workstations and seating.

Working outdoors

For work outdoors employers should consider things such as the weather, temperature (both hot and cold) and sun exposure.

Find out more
  1. Workplace health, safety and welfare 

Designing Workstations

Good workstation design can help reduce the incidence of injury or ill health in the workplace.

Employers should ensure that workstations are designed to help workers carry out their tasks with ease of access to controls on equipment. For example, if seating is required it should be suitable for the task and have:
  • support for the small of the back;
  • fully adjustable height settings
  • footrests available if necessary.

Display Screen Equipment

Employers must assess the risks to workers (users) who work at employer workstations and regularly use display screen equipment like computers and laptops as a significant part of their normal work (daily for continuous periods of an hour or more).

Some workers may experience posture problems and pain, discomfort or injuries, e.g. to their hands/arms, from overuse or improper use or from poorly designed workstations or work environments. Headaches or sore eyes can also occur, for example if the lighting is poor.

What should employers do?

  • Identify what display screen equipment they have and which users and operators are covered.
  • Assess all workstations and ensure they meet the minimum national requirements for them.
  • Plan the work so there are breaks or changes of activity.
  • Provide training and information.
  • If employers use ‘hot-desking’ (where workers do not have a specific desk but use what desk is available), workers will still need to check their workstation and adjust it to their requirements. It may be helpful to provide a checklist of what they need to consider, and this could be attached to the desk or workstation.

Find out more
  1. Working safely with display screen equipment
  2. Display screen equipment (DSE) workstation checklist