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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Guernsey

Health and safety laws

In Guernsey, the primary legislation governing health and safety is The Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987. This foundational law establishes the core principles and duties for employers, employees, and the self-employed in maintaining safety.

Fundamental Principles

The main tenets of this framework include:

  • Risk Assessment and Control: Employers are responsible for identifying workplace hazards, assessing risks, and implementing control measures to minimize or eliminate them.
  • Safe Systems of Work: Employers must provide safe work procedures, equipment, and systems to protect employees from harm.
  • Provision of Information, Instruction, and Training: Employers must provide workers with clear information, guidance, and appropriate training on health and safety matters relevant to their work.
  • Workplace Consultation: Employers must consult with employees or their representatives regarding health and safety issues that directly affect them.

Employer Duties

The 1987 Ordinance outlines specific duties for employers, including:

  • Maintaining a safe workplace, including machinery and equipment
  • Ensuring safe handling, storage, and transport of substances
  • Providing adequate welfare facilities (toilets, rest areas, drinking water)
  • Maintaining a healthy working environment (temperature, ventilation, lighting, etc.)
  • Providing necessary personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Developing and implementing emergency procedures

Employee Duties

Employees also have responsibilities under Guernsey's health and safety laws:

  • Taking reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others affected by their actions.
  • Cooperating with their employer on safety matters.
  • Using safety equipment and following procedures as instructed.


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the regulatory body tasked with enforcing health and safety legislation in Guernsey. HSE inspectors have the power to initiate legal proceedings for breaches of health and safety laws. It's essential for employers and employees to stay updated on the latest regulations and best practices.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) standards in Guernsey are influenced by European Union directives and the approach adopted within the United Kingdom. These standards are primarily outlined in the Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987, and further supported by guidance documents from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Key Areas of Focus

  • Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment: Employers are required to identify potential hazards across all work activities and implement a comprehensive risk assessment process. This forms the basis for proactive hazard management.

  • Workplace Safety: This includes safe design and layout of the workplace, maintenance of equipment and machinery, fire safety and emergency procedures, and prevention of slips, trips, and falls.

  • Chemical Safety: Employers must ensure safe handling, storage, use, and disposal of hazardous chemicals. This includes having Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) accessible for workers.

  • Physical Hazards: Measures to address noise, vibration, radiation, and other physical hazards are essential for preventing occupational illnesses and injuries.

  • Ergonomics: Employers should actively promote good ergonomic practices in the workplace to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Appropriate PPE must be provided and used where hazards cannot be fully eliminated by other means.

  • Occupational Health: Guernsey employers have a duty to conduct health surveillance where necessary, provide first aid facilities and trained personnel, and address mental health and well-being in the workplace.

Occupational Health & Safety Practices

Guernsey promotes a strong culture of preventative health and safety, emphasizing proactive approaches:

  • Training and Education: Comprehensive OHS training and information are provided to workers at all levels, ensuring they understand risks and safe work practices.

  • Employee Involvement: Consultation and participation of employees or their representatives in OHS matters is strongly encouraged.

  • Continuous Improvement: Workplaces are expected to have systems in place for reviewing OHS performance, identifying areas for improvement, and implementing corrective actions.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections are a vital tool for ensuring safety and compliance in Guernsey. They help identify hazards and risks, prevent accidents and injuries, ensure compliance, and promote a safety culture.

Inspection Procedures

Workplace inspections in Guernsey typically involve planning, notification, a walk-through, interviews and document review, and a report. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) determines which workplaces to inspect, the scope of the inspection, and any specific areas of focus. In most cases, the employer will be notified of the inspection in advance. However, unannounced inspections may also be conducted. The inspector conducts a thorough inspection of the workplace, observing work processes, equipment facilities, and employee practices. The inspector interviews employees and reviews relevant safety documentation, including risk assessments, training records, and incident reports. Finally, the inspector prepares a written report outlining findings, identifying hazards, and making recommendations or issuing notices for improvement.

Inspection Criteria

Guernsey workplace inspections examine various aspects of health and safety, including work activities and processes, machinery and equipment, hazardous substances, the workplace environment, fire safety, personal protective equipment (PPE), and management systems and documentation.

Inspection Frequency

There's no fixed frequency for workplace inspections in Guernsey. The frequency is determined by factors such as the size and nature of the workplace, HSE risk assessment, and specific concerns. High-risk industries and larger workplaces may be inspected more frequently. The HSE considers the workplace's history of incidents and compliance. Inspections may occur in response to complaints or reported incidents.

Follow-up Actions

After the inspection, the HSE inspector may take actions such as providing informal advice, issuing an improvement notice, issuing a prohibition notice, or initiating prosecution proceedings. The action taken depends on the severity of the health and safety violations found during the inspection.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents are a serious matter and employers in Guernsey have legal obligations to report specific incidents to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). These incidents include deaths and major injuries, over-seven-day incapacitations, and dangerous occurrences.

Reporting Process

Fatalities and specific types of major injuries such as fractures, amputations, and loss of sight must be reported immediately by phone, followed by a written report. If an employee is unable to perform their usual work duties for more than seven consecutive days due to a work-related injury, it must be reported. Certain near-miss incidents that could have resulted in significant harm must also be reported.

Accident Investigation

Both employers and the HSE have responsibilities when investigating workplace accidents. Employers must secure the scene to prevent further incidents, gather evidence, analyze the root cause, implement corrective actions, and document the investigation. The HSE, on the other hand, determines the severity of the incident, assesses compliance, gathers evidence, and takes enforcement actions if necessary.

Compensation Claims

Employees injured in workplace accidents may be entitled to compensation. Employers must have Employers' Liability Compulsory Insurance to cover claims for injuries or illnesses sustained by employees during employment. Injured employees can potentially claim for financial losses, including medical expenses, loss of earnings, and compensation for pain and suffering. It's advisable for injured workers to seek legal advice from a specialist personal injury solicitor for guidance on the claims process and maximizing their potential compensation.

Please note that time limits exist for making compensation claims and employers are prohibited from dismissing or treating employees unfairly due to workplace accidents or related compensation claims.

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