In the United Kingdom it is the law for businesses to provide all their personnel with access to an up-to-date copy of the health and safety law. This is so that employees have a familiarity with their rights and their responsibilities, and are able to make more informed choices and access further information if they feel they are being put in unnecessary danger.
Most sites will put up a standard health and safety poster in a communal staff area like a break room, but there is also the option to provide every employee with a leaflet. Whichever option you choose, you should know that both the poster and the leaflet must be the current, up-to-date, Health and Safety Executive-approved versions — employers cannot make their own posters.
The first iteration of the poster was introduced in 1989. This version was text-heavy, and in retrospect is considered unappealing and unobtrusive — rendering it largely ineffective as employees would rarely read it.
Every few years, the poster is updated — primarily to reflect changing best practice and regulatory reform, but also to make it more user-friendly.
The current version, released in 2009, is full colour, includes eye-catching photographs and the information is displayed in concise, numbered points rather than in blocks of text.
The poster contains general advice on health and safety law, and is aimed at employees.
There are three main sections. The first describes the responsibilities of the employer to the employee, the second outlines the duties of the employee to the employer and to themselves, and the third gives guidance on what to do if there is a perceived problem with the health and safety processes within the company.
There is a different version of the poster, dedicated to offshore health and safety. If you operate a business that has off-shore workplaces, like an oil-rig for example, you need to make sure you have the correct poster displayed at those locations.
The Health and Safety Information for Employees Act of 1989 is the law that covers the use of the poster or leaflet. You can find that information at https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/managing/poster.htm
While the law requires that you give your employees this exact set of information, this should be considered as the bare minimum. Other posters are available that you might want to display to reduce site-specific risks, such as kitchen hygiene, office safety or safe lifting posters.
These health and safety posters can provide an ongoing supplement to staff training, presenting a useful reminder of safe and responsible conduct.