As an employee, you have the right to work in conditions that do not compromise your well-being. Understanding your rights under health and safety legislation is empowering, enabling you to advocate for your own safety and that of your colleagues.

In this guide to understanding health and safety legislation for employees, we’ll break down the key points to help you navigate your rights in the workplace.

The right to a safe workplace

Every employee has the fundamental right to work in an environment that prioritises safety. Employers are obligated to provide conditions that minimise risks and hazards, ensuring the well-being of their workforce.

Access to information

You have the right to be informed about potential hazards in the workplace. Employers must provide information on safety procedures, potential risks, and the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Training and information

Employers must offer adequate training on health and safety protocols. This includes information on emergency procedures, first aid, and the proper handling of equipment or machinery.

Representation in health and safety matters

Employees have the right to be represented in health and safety matters. This may involve participating in safety committees,  being consulted on workplace changes that could affect health and safety, or appointing a safety representative/trade union representative.

Refusal of unsafe work

If you believe your work poses a serious and imminent danger to your health and safety, you have the right to refuse to work. Employers are prohibited from penalising employees for exercising this right.

Medical privacy

Your health information is private, and employers are not entitled to disclose it without your consent. However, you are required to disclose relevant medical information that may impact your ability to perform your job safely.

Reasonable adjustments

If you have a disability, or a physical or mental health condition, your employer must make reasonable adjustments to make sure you are not substantially disadvantaged when doing your job.

The legislation applies to anyone who has ‘a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect’ on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

Whistleblower protections

If you report a health and safety violation, you are protected from retaliation. Employers cannot take adverse actions, such as dismissal or demotion, against you for raising legitimate concerns about workplace safety.  Such action could be considered unfair dismissal or constuctive dismissal.

Access to safety equipment and facilities

Employers must provide necessary safety equipment and ensure that facilities, such as restrooms and break areas, meet health and safety standards.

Right to information about workplace incidents

If there is an incident in the workplace that affects health and safety, you have the right to be informed about it. This includes details about the incident, any measures taken, and steps to prevent future occurrences.

Access to health and safety policies

Employers are required to make health and safety policies and procedures accessible to all employees. Familiarise yourself with these documents to understand your rights and responsibilities.

A right to rest breaks

Under health and safety laws, you have a right to daily and weekly rest breaks. This includes getting a daily rest period of at least 20 minutes if the working day exceeds 6 hours and at least one full day off during every 7 days.


Knowing about your rights under health and safety legislation is vital in helping to create a safe workplace for all. If you ever feel your rights are being violated or are unsure about safety procedures, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from your employer or the appropriate regulatory body. By understanding and asserting your rights, you contribute to creating a workplace that prioritises the well-being of every employee.

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Published On: February 15th, 2024