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Health and safety at work

If you run a business, you have a legal responsibility to provide safe and healthy conditions for your employees, customers, and suppliers.

The following will give you more information on different areas of health and safety in the workplace.

You can find information about returning to work safely during coronavirus on This guidance is for workers and employers.

General employer's guide

Effective health and safety practices help you avoid staff illness, accidents and the costs that go along with them. They can also improve your business' reputation with customers, regulators and employees.

The Business Gateway site gives an introduction to the essentials of health and safety for your business.

Advice from Healthy Working Lives

Healthy Working Lives provides free guidance, training and support for Scottish businesses. They cover many aspects of Fair Work, health, safety and well-being in the workplace.

Healthy Working Lives is delivered by the NHS so all services are free and confidential.

You can access support and guidance from the Healthy Working Lives website at to find out more and link to the local team in your health board area.

Occupational health and welfare

Managing occupational health and welfare issues in your workplace means taking steps to prevent injury and promote the wellbeing of yourself and your staff.

Business Gateway has a guide that explains the importance of tackling issues such as stress or harassment and explains how to implement systems that can help you do this.

Ensuring employee safety when using equipment

All businesses must make sure their equipment is used to meet health and safety requirements. This reduces the risk of accidents or damage to health. Under health and safety law, employers have a duty to minimise risks to employees.

Business Gateway has a guide that explains how to assess and reduce the risks of using workplace equipment.

Safely handling and transporting substances

All businesses must assess the risks and implications of:

  • manual handling
  • transport in the workplace
  • slips and trips
  • transporting goods and materials
  • managing harmful substances

This guide from Business Gateway explains how to assess and control risks, and tells you how to make your workplace safer.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Find information and advice about work-related health, safety and illness from the independent regulator.

Health and Safety Executive

Health and Safety Executive
Redgrave Court
Merton Road
L20 7HS

Report or make a complaint about a workplace health and safety matter

If you need to report an incident or have a complaint about a health and safety matter in the workplace contact the Health and Safety Executive.

Workplace temperatures

During working hours the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable.

There's no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures, eg when it's too cold or too hot to work.

However, guidance suggests a minimum of 16ºC or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work.

There's no guidance for a maximum temperature limit.

Employers must stick to health and safety at work law, including:

  • keeping the temperature at a comfortable level
  • providing clean and fresh air

Employees should talk to their employer if the workplace temperature is not comfortable.

Smoking at work: the law

Smoking is not allowed in any enclosed workplace, public building or on public transport in the UK.

Businesses must:

  • display 'no smoking' signs in all workplaces and vehicles
  • make sure people do not smoke in enclosed work premises or shared vehicles

Staff smoking rooms are not allowed - smokers must go outside.

Businesses can be fined a fixed penalty of £200 if they do not stop people smoking in the workplace or up to £2,500 if the fine is not paid.

Workers can be fined up to £50 for smoking at work.

The law doesn't apply to e-cigarettes. Employers can decide if they can be used on their premises.

Smoking is not allowed in any work vehicle that more than one person uses, including:

  • taxis
  • buses
  • vans
  • goods vehicles used by more than one driver
  • company cars used by more than one employee

A worker can smoke in a company car that only they use if their employer agrees.

Residential care homes and hospices can offer individual smoking rooms but only for residents.

The rooms must be well ventilated and smoke must not get into other rooms.

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