A fool-proof guide to health and safety for pubs

pub health and safetyIf you’re running a pub, then you’ll no doubt want to avoid some of the potential banana skins laid down by health and safety legislators.

But don’t despair… the health and safety laws that apply to pubs are actually rather sensible.

The whole purpose of health and safety legislation is to ensure that businesses protect both staff and customers.

So, instead of regarding it as an irritating legal consideration that needs ticking off, think of it as a useful framework for ensuring everyone’s well being.

To help you, we’ve summarised the guidance provided by HSE, the Government body that oversees health and safety law in the UK.

As the owner of a pub you need to do the following:

  1. Elect a competent person to ensure your pub meets its legal obligations.
  2. Carry out a risk assessment.
  3. Provide a safe workplace.
  4. Give relevant training and information.
  5. Supply adequate first aid facilities.
  6. Write a health and safety policy.
  7. Get Employers’ Liability Insurance.

Let’s go through them one-by-one.

1. Elect a competent person

One of the first things you need to do is choose an appropriate person to ensure that your pub meets its health and safety duties. That person might will likely be you.

Are you confident you can manage your establishment’s health and safety needs?

Click here to find out more about how to elect a competent person to oversee your pub’s health and safety needs.


2. Create a risk assessment

health and safety pubs riskWhat could be a risk to your staff and customers in your pub?

Thankfully, the HSE website has a handy health and safety template you can download.

With that document in-hand, take a walk around and:

  • Look out for the hazards.
  • Decide who might be harmed and how.
  • Evaluate the risks and decide whether the existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done.
  • Record these findings.
  • Review them when necessary.

Furthermore, you are legally obliged to consult your staff. They are likely to offer a different perspective and will have noticed hazards you have not.

Here’s useful advice from the HSE website:

The law does not expect you to remove all risks, but to protect people by putting in place measures to control those risks, so far as reasonably practicable. Your risk assessment need only include what you could reasonably be expected to know – you are not expected to anticipate unforeseeable risks.”

Take a look at this example of a pub risk assessment from HSE.


3. Provide a safe workplace

healthy and safety in pubsThere are three main aspects to providing a safe workplace:


To have a healthy working environment, make sure you have:

  • Good ventilation – most pubs are spacious enough so it’s just a case of ensuring a few windows are left open. However, if you’ve got a basement bar, you will require a ventilation system. Effective ventilation is also required for the cellar.
  • A suitable working temperature – usually between 13°C and 16°C depending on how strenuous the work is.
  • Suitable lighting – the ambient lighting in pubs is often dimmer than most other workplaces, but it still needs to be light enough so that people can work safely. Talk to your staff – they make the best judges. Also consider the lighting in your cellar and kitchen.
  • A clean workplace – we’d advise creating a cleaning rota for your employees. Ensure that all rubbish is cleared at the end of the night, and that all areas are cleaned and tidied.

Welfare facilities

For your employees’ well-being you need to provide:

  • Access to clean drinking water.
  • Toilets and hand basins, with soap and towels or a hand-dryer.
  • Somewhere to rest and eat meals. This may be in the public areas or in a private staff room.
  • A safe place to store clothing.

Safety issues

To ensure your pub is a safe place to work and frequent, you must:

  • Keep floors and walking routes free from obstruction.
  • Properly maintain your premises and work equipment.
  • Have windows that can be opened and cleaned safely.
  • Make sure that any glass doors are protected or made of safety material.

Read the HSE’s guidance on providing a safe workplace.

4. Give training and information

9696301792_b4e636dbc8_zYour staff must know how to work safely in your pub.

Here’s how to educate them…

Training: Your staff will need to be trained in all the potentially hazardous tasks they are likely to undertake. Make sure this is documented.

This can include: changing barrels, lifting heavy items and dealing with broken glass.

The health and safety poster or pocket card: You MUST display either the ‘Health and Safety Law Poster’ in your pub, OR provide each individual employee with the same information in the form of HSE’s pocket booklet.

Shared responsibility: While you have a legal duty to consult with your employees on health and safety issues, they also have their own legal obligations. They must:

  • Not interfere with or misuse equipment.
  • Take reasonable care for their own health and safety, and that of others.
  • Cooperate with you on health and safety matters.
  • Use work equipment correctly, in accordance with training and instruction.

Also keep in mind any contractor or self-employed person working at your premises also needs to be made aware of potential hazards.

Read the HSE’s guide to providing health and safety training and information.


5. Supply adequate first aid facilities

health and safety first aid pubsYou must have suitable procedures in place in the event of accidents and other events which may cause people to require medical attention.

You must:

  • Carry out a first aid assessment in order to work out your needs. Do you need a first aider on site? Or will an appointed person be enough…
  • Appoint a person(s) to take charge of first aid arrangements. That person will be responsible for phoning the ambulance in the case of an emergency. There must be an appointed person on site at all times which means you might want to have more than one person filling this role.
  • Provide information for employees detailing first aid arrangements.
  • Provide an accident book which records any incidents of injury. You will also require a RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurences Regulations) book. The purpose of RIDDOR is to keep a record of major incidents and near misses.
  • Provide a first aid box. Or two. How many you need will depend on the outcome of your first aid assessment. As a general rule if you have a kitchen, place one there and one behind the bar.

Read the official HSE first aid guidance.


6. Write a health and safety policy

health and safety pubs penYour pub’s health and safety policy can be set out in a simple table format. There are three main sections to include:

i. Statement of Intent (what you intend to do):

This is your opportunity to set out your commitment to health and safety and the ways in which you will manage it.  The most senior person in the business must sign and date this.

ii. Your Organisation:

This section of your policy should clearly name those who will have health and safety responsibilities in your pub. The overall responsibility for safety lies with the employer, but day-to-day responsibility can be delegated to another employee.

iii. Arrangements (how you will put it into place):

This section should outline how you will meet the commitments you have made in your statement of intent. It details the measures, systems and procedures you will put into place to eliminate or reduce as far as is reasonably practicable the risks posed by the hazards in your pub.

The content of this section will be largely shaped by your risk assessment.

The Health and Safety Executive offers a useful template for creating a health and safety policy. Download the health and safety policy template.

The health and safety policy will only be effective if you and your staff follow it and review it regularly.


7. Employer’s Liability Insurance

As an employer, you must purchase Employers Liability Insurance by law. You can attract hefty fines if you don’t have Employers’ Liability Insurance. Fines can be up to £2,500 per day for every day you don’t have it.

Family members that work for you do not need to be added to an employers’ liability policy, however part-time workers and temporary staff do.

This is our seven-point summary of health and safety essentials for pub landlords. Other factors to consider, such as fire safety and COSSH (hazard substance control) will be covered separately on Pub Landlord Advisor.

As with all legal matters, if in doubt, seek professional advice.


Photo of barman by kishjar! – CC