As an employer or HR Manager in the UK, it is crucial to understand your responsibilities when it comes to occupational health. Occupational health refers to the physical, mental, and social well-being of employees in relation to their work environment. By prioritising occupational health, you can create a safer, healthier, and more productive workplace, while also fulfilling your legal obligations. This article will outline the key responsibilities that employers have in relation to occupational health.

Legal Duties

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is the primary legislation governing occupational health and safety in the UK. Under this act, employers have a legal duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of their employees. This includes:

  • Providing a safe work environment and equipment
  • Identifying and assessing risks to health and safety
  • Implementing measures to control or mitigate identified risks
  • Providing necessary training, information, and supervision
  • Consulting with employees on health and safety matters

Failure to comply with these duties can result in legal action, fines, and reputational damage.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities, including those related to physical or mental health. Employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities, which may include:

  • Modifying the work environment or equipment
  • Adjusting work schedules or responsibilities
  • Providing additional support or training

Employers must also ensure that their policies and practices do not discriminate against employees with health conditions.

Risk Assessment and Management

Identifying and Assessing Risks

Employers have a responsibility to identify and assess the risks to their employees’ health and safety. This involves:

  • Conducting regular risk assessments of the work environment, tasks, and equipment
  • Considering the specific needs and vulnerabilities of individual employees
  • Consulting with employees and health and safety representatives
  • Keeping up to date with industry best practices and legal requirements

By thoroughly assessing risks, employers can take proactive steps to prevent or mitigate potential health and safety issues.

Implementing Control Measures

Once risks have been identified and assessed, employers must implement appropriate control measures to reduce or eliminate them. This may include:

  • Providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Modifying work processes or equipment to reduce hazards
  • Implementing safety protocols and procedures
  • Providing training and supervision to ensure safe work practices
  • Regularly maintaining and inspecting equipment and work environments

Employers should prioritise the most effective and practical control measures, following the hierarchy of controls (elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and PPE).

Occupational Health Services

Providing Access to Occupational Health Services

Employers have a responsibility to provide their employees with access to occupational health services. These services can help prevent work-related ill health, support employees with health conditions, and promote overall well-being. Occupational health services may include:

  • Health surveillance and screening
  • Fitness for work assessments
  • Ergonomic assessments and advice
  • Mental health support and counselling
  • Health promotion and wellness programmes

Employers can provide these services in-house or through external providers, such as London City Healthcare, which offers occupational health assessments, fit for work assessments, and health questionnaires.

Supporting Employees with Health Conditions

Employers have a responsibility to support employees with health conditions, whether pre-existing or developed during employment. This may involve:

  • Making reasonable adjustments to the work environment or duties
  • Providing time off for medical appointments or treatment
  • Offering flexible working arrangements or phased returns to work
  • Providing access to occupational health advice and support
  • Maintaining open and supportive communication with the employee

By supporting employees with health conditions, employers can foster a more inclusive and productive workplace, while also meeting their legal obligations.

Training and Communication

Providing Health and Safety Training

Employers have a responsibility to provide their employees with the necessary health and safety training. This includes:

  • Induction training for new employees
  • Job-specific training on safe work practices and equipment use
  • Regular refresher training to maintain awareness and competence
  • Specialised training for high-risk tasks or environments
  • Training for managers and supervisors on their health and safety responsibilities

Effective training helps ensure that employees have the knowledge and skills to work safely and minimise the risk of work-related ill health.

Communicating and Consulting with Employees

Employers have a responsibility to communicate and consult with their employees on occupational health matters. This involves:

  • Providing clear and accessible information on health and safety policies and procedures
  • Encouraging employee participation and feedback on health and safety issues
  • Involving employees or their representatives in risk assessments and decision-making
  • Regularly updating employees on changes to health and safety practices or legislation
  • Fostering an open and transparent culture around health and well-being

Effective communication and consultation can help build trust, engagement, and a shared commitment to occupational health.


Employers have a significant responsibility when it comes to occupational health. Employers can create a safer, healthier, and more productive workplace by understanding and fulfilling their legal duties, assessing and managing risks, providing access to occupational health services, supporting employees with health conditions, and ensuring effective training and communication.

Partnering with occupational health providers, such as London City Healthcare, can help employers meet their responsibilities and access specialist expertise. If you would like to learn more about how London City Healthcare can support your organisation’s occupational health needs, please don’t hesitate to contact them directly by calling 0207 236 3334 or by using the contact page and submitting the form.

Remember, investing in occupational health is not only a legal and moral obligation but also a key driver of business success. By prioritising the health and well-being of your employees, you can foster a more resilient, engaged, and high-performing workforce.

Dr Amun Kalia

Dr Amun Kalia

Dr. Kalia helps to run the Occupational Medicine provision for London City healthcare and is a company doctor for one of the largest multinational companies based in the UK.

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