The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires enforcing authorities to ensure businesses are inspected by qualified and experienced officers to check that they adhere to standards established by the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
You can download the following documents for more details:
- What to expect when a health and safety inspector calls (PDF) [89KB]
- What to expect when a safety awareness officer calls (PDF) [89KB]
The Intervention Visit (Inspection)
Inspectors often arrive unannounced, but will on some occasions make an appointment. On arrival on site, inspectors will introduce themselves to a member of staff and request to speak the owner or manager of the premises. All Inspectors carry identification, you should always ask to see ID. The inspector will then explain what they require from the inspection. Inspectors will require to see a range of paperwork and may wish to speak to a number of staff including general workers, safety representatives, managers or directors of companies.
Generally inspectors are checking to see that;
- Adequate measures are in place to control risks to the health and safety of employees, public and any other person who may be affected by the business.
- Measures are taken to comply with the law Inspectors will wish to quickly look at all of the information mentioned in the new businesses section.
Preston City Council target businesses for intervention visits based on the National Priority Topics set by HSE, or Local Priorities that have been identified due emerging trends or incidents. Presently National Priorities include: Legionella Infection, Infection from Open Farms (Petting Zoo's etc), Injuries from Reversing Vehicles especially in warehousing/distribution, Injuries from falls from height especially in Industrial/retail premises & Violence at work especially in betting shops, Off-Licences etc. Local Priorities include Asbestos: Duty to Manage, Gas Safety in Food Preparation & Sunbeds.
Intervention visits may also be undertaken following the notification of an Accident or following a complaint made about a business.
Following the visit a handwritten report is left with the business which contains an action list for the business to complete and will often put a timescale on completion of the works. Sometimes a letter may be sent to the business, or to the company head office if it is situated elsewhere in the country.
When the inspection is complete the premises are risk rated by the inspector, and scored based of the findings of the inspection. Premises that fail to control workplace health and safety will score higher than those who produce good risk assessment and implement controls to prevent risks to health and safety. The risk rating is often use to determine which premises may be targeted for intervention visits. Poorer scoring premises, those that have demonstrated they cannot manage their health and safety, are more likely to be visited than those who achieved lower scores.
For more information regarding National & Local Priorities and Risk Rating premises following an intervention see the HSE - Local Authority Circulars.
Often a report will be left with the business following an inspection or a letter will be sent outlining any matters that require addressing. However sometimes formal action is required. Formal action is taken in accordance with the Council's Environmental Health Enforcement Policy. When standards are found to be unsatisfactory, improvements are for the most part achieved by provision of advice and information by the inspecting officer. In some cases, however, formal action is required, for example:
- Service of an improvement notice which requires specified works to be undertaken within a limited time
- Prohibiting an activity or use of premises until action is completed to remove the risk to health or safety
- Prosecution where there are serious breaches of the law or an improvement or prohibition notices have not been complied with.
Information to employees or their representatives
An inspector will meet or speak to employees or their representatives during a visit, wherever possible, unless this is clearly inappropriate because of the purpose of the visit. When they meet, employees or their representatives should always be given the opportunity to speak privately to the inspector, if they so wish.
The inspector will provide employees or their representatives with certain information where necessary for the purpose of keeping them informed about matters affecting their health, safety and welfare. This information relates to the workplace or activity taking place there, and action which the inspector has taken or proposes to take. The type of information that an inspector will provide includes:
- matters which an inspector considers to be of serious concern
- details of any enforcement action taken by the inspector, and
- an intention to prosecute the business (but not before the duty holder is informed).
Depending on the circumstances, the inspector may provide this information orally or in writing.
Self assessment questionnaires
These are sent to premises that we have already determined are low risk. The questionnaire allows the team to monitor the business and determine if there have been any substantial changes in the way it operates.
Food businesses are likely to receive a joint intervention visit when a Food Inspector visits their premises. The Food inspector will discuss a health and safety topic that is relevant to food premises, such as Slips and Trips.
Complaints about our service
If your are dissatisfied with the service you have received, or with the conduct of an officer you can contact the Environmental Health Manager (Health and Safety) directly or you may wish to make a formal complaint through the corporate complaints procedure.
The Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel
The Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel will look into complaints regarding advice given by the Council's H&S inspectors about health and safety which you think is incorrect or goes beyond what is required to control the risk adequately.
The panel will consist of independent members who will have the competence and experience to assess advice that has been given on regulatory matters.
Before you raise an issue with the panel, you should have first tried to resolve the matter with the H&S inspector and/or H&S team manager.
If you have tried to resolve the matter with the H&S Team, but have not been able to reach a satisfactory compromise. Please contact the Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel.