Expert Advice: Know your Health & Safety responsibilities

Health & Safety Specialist Nicola Walsh explains the obligations of employers and employees in hair and beauty workplaces.

Nicola Walsh Blush Ensure Health and SafetyAs salon owners think about the possibility of reopening their business when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, now is a great time to look at some of the Health & Safety obligations on both the employer and employee (there are more that can be found in the Act). 

Many business owners don't realise that employees will be held responsible for their own part in Health & Safety in an organisation. There does, however, have to be sufficient communication and training with employees and managers to bring about a positive culture around Health & Safety.

Employer Duties:
  • To manage and conduct work activities in such a way as to prevent any improper conduct or behaviour likely to endanger employees
  • As regards the place of work concerned, the employer must ensure the design, provision and maintenance of:
            -    a safe, risk-free place of work,
            -    safe means access to and egress from it
            -    plant and machinery that are safe and without risk to health

  • To provide information, instruction, training and supervision, where necessary
  • To provide protective clothing and equipment where risks cannot be eliminated or adequately controlled
  • To report accidents and dangerous occurrences to the relevant authority (prescribed under section 33)

Employee Duties: 
  • To comply with all relevant statutory provisions
  • To take reasonable care to protect the safety of themselves and others who might be affected by their acts and omissions
  • To ensure they are not under the influence of an intoxicant or in such a state that they might be a danger to themselves or others. 
  • To co-operate with his or her employer so far as is necessary to enable compliance with the relevant statutory provisions
  • To not engage in any improper conduct or dangerous behaviour
  • To attend training and undergo such assessment as may be necessary
  • To report to his or her employer as soon as practicable:
            - any work being carried out which might endanger themselves or others
            - any defects in the place of work, the system of work, any article or substance which might endanger themselves or others
            - any contravention of the relevant statutory provisions of which he/she is aware

An employee may not:

  • Misrepresent himself or herself to an employer with regard to their level of training
  • Interfere, misuse or damage anything provided for the safety, health and welfare or employees
  • Place at risk the safety, health and welfare of persons in connection with work activities
Health & Safety documentation is legally required. It can be tiresome and seem to not be important enough to implement. However, not having the documentation means you are operating outside of legal requirements, which opens employers to litigation. 

Be prepared and stay safe, arrange to have your Safety Statement done by a professional if you do not have the time or understand what it entails. It protects the business and all its staff, clients and visitors.

Nicola Walsh is a Health & Safety Specialist and founder of Ensure Health and Safety Ltd. She is also an owner of salons in Clonmel and Dungarvan and beauty educator, and an All-Ireland Business All-Star.