Health and Safety Roles and Responsibilities

To enable effective performance management, it is important that allocated health and safety roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, understood and accepted, and able to be monitored objectively. People with specific health and safety responsibilities should be held accountable.

In terms of practical allocation of roles and responsibilities it may be easier to recognise that everyone employed by the organisation is an employee and therefore has the same basic responsibilities; and that additional responsibilities are added as a result of seniority in the management structure or as a consequence of being appointed to a role with specific safety responsibilities.

Directors and Senior Management Team

The senior management team is responsible for:

  • Establishing effective ‘downward’ communication systems and management structures
  • Considering health and safety implications of all business decisions
  • Setting targets for improving the organisations health and safety performance
  • Regularly reviewing the organisations health and safety performance at board level
  • Making provision for adequate resources, including competent health and safety advice


In addition to the basic employee’s responsibilities supervisors and managers may well have responsibility for specific groups of workers or specific parts of the workplace.

Additional responsibilities may include ensuring that:

  • risk assessments are current and effective
  • employees are working in accordance with safe systems of work
  • the workplace is kept clean and tidy and free of obstructions
  • adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) are available
  • accidents and near misses are reported and properly investigated

Health and Safety Manager/Advisor

The role needs to be clearly defined, particularly regarding its advisory and management responsibilities. This may vary greatly depending on the size of the organisation and its hazard profile. Examples of typical responsibilities include:

  • advising the board or senior management on strategic health and safety issues
  • formulating and developing specific aspects of the health and safety management system, e.g. the practical arrangements for risk assessment
  • day-to-day implementation and monitoring of policy and plans including accident and incident investigation, reporting and analysis
  • reviewing performance and auditing of the health and safety management system

All Employees

All employees have to:

  • take reasonable care of their own health and safety and the health and safety of others who may be affected by their work
  • cooperate with supervisors and managers on health and safety matters
  • properly use and not interfere with anything provided to safeguard their health and safety
  • report all health and safety concerns to an appropriate person

First Aiders

First aiders’ specific duties may include:

  • Provision of first aid treatment to employees
  • Recording of all treatment given
  • Liaison with emergency services
  • Maintenance of first aid kit / first aid room

Fire Wardens

A fire warden may be allocated a range of duties relating to periodic checks of fire precautions or actions in case of fire, such as:

  • Sweeping an allocated area, encouraging people to leave via the nearest fire escape route and proceed to the assembly point
  • turning off equipment and closing doors and windows as they go
  • Informing the person in charge of the evacuation that their area is clear