The Beginner's Guide to Office Health and Safety

Explore the essentials of office health and safety with our guide. Learn about legalities, risk assessments, and fire safety.

Staff may roll their eyes when they hear the phrase ‘health and safety’ but it’s a serious topic with serious ramifications if your company gets it wrong. Employers who put their staff at risk can be fined or face prison time. And failure to follow regulations can invalidate your insurance. 

All too often, the day-to-day responsibility falls entirely on an under-resourced office manager’s shoulders.

If you are new to health and safety or struggling to get your head around the rules - don’t panic. 

Sign up to Clara Office Management today to access our free to download spreadsheet, explaining what you need to do and when to stay compliant.

We can also help by finding specialist contractors for the jobs you can’t do in-house. But first, here are the basics to get you started…

Health and safety - What’s the law for offices?

The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re meeting the legal minimum required of all employers as outlined by the Health and Safety Executive - your go-to for all things health and safety related. 

The amount and complexity of work needed for your company to meet legal requirements will depend on its type of work  and number of employees. 

If your office is in a building run and maintained by a third party then you need to identify what is your responsibility, what is theirs, and how you overlap. 

Risk assessments and policies

All companies are legally required to have a number of key risk assessments and policies that are regularly reviewed and updated. As a general rule, risk assessments identify what the risks are, how likely they are to affect staff, and how you can remove or reduce these risks. Policies provide more detail including who is responsible for what and the information and training provided to employees. 

For example, a health and safety policy would include information about designated first aiders and their training, and how to report accidents and injuries. 

It would also include information about how to set up your workstation correctly, explain how often Display Equipment Assessments should take place, and outline the number and duration of breaks staff should take during the working day. 

Our free spreadsheet details assessments and policies you’re required to have by law, and what they should cover.

Fire Safety

If your office is in a shared or managed building don’t make the mistake of thinking fire safety isn’t your problem. As a minimum you’ll need a fire risk assessment, at least one person responsible for fire safety (such as a warden), information for employees, an evacuation plan and regular drill testing. 

While much of this can be done in-house, key jobs that require an accredited contractor include maintaining and servicing fire extinguishers and your alarm system. 

Electrics, gas, plumbing and HVAC

Offices need an Electrical Installation Condition Report at least every five years. This in-depth survey by an accredited electrician checks that your office electrics are safe and working properly. 

EICRs won’t cover individual items such as laptops, so  IT and other electrical equipment used by your staff should also  be inspected and PAT tested regularly. 

You’ll also need to ensure the water system is safe and functioning and that you’re maintaining heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems properly. This includes regular filter replacement and duct cleaning. 

If you have a HVAC system with an output of more than 12kW it needs to be inspected every five years by an accredited energy assessor and reported on the Energy Performance of Buildings register.

A gas boiler, hob, oven, or any other gas installation in your office must be installed by a gas safe registered engineer and regularly maintained. 

Security, access control and CCTV

If you record CCTV you need to make sure you’re following data protection law and storing the footage securely. Security, access control and CCTV systems all need regular cleaning, maintenance and inspections which - most likely - will be a requirement of your insurance policy. 

This is just a snapshot of the key areas anyone responsible for maintaining an office will need to understand. 

Whether you need a one-off job or a regular maintenance contract, contact our dedicated free concierge for a quote by emailing

Alex Nazaruk

Co-founder & CEO

I write about the future of work and life as a start-up founder.