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Health and safety inspections

Local Authorities have a statutory duty to inspect certain categories of premises in order to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation (the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and regulations made thereunder).

It is the aim of the service to secure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work and the health and safety of persons not at work but who may be affected by work activities.

Authorised Officers of the Council have the right to enter and inspect premises at all reasonable hours, this may include visits in the early morning or during the evening, depending upon trading patterns. Routine inspections are usually made without prior notice.

The frequency of routine inspections is determined by the potential risk posed by the business, the previous record of compliance and the confidence in management systems. High risk premises may expect a visit every 12 months, others less often. Visits may also be made as a result of a complaint, as part of an accident investigation or as part of an enforcement initiative/campaign.

The Officer will look at the way the business is operated to identify possible health and safety hazards, and will look at welfare provisions to ensure compliance with statutory requirements.

The Officer will discuss any problems identified and advise on possible solutions, Officers also have enforcement powers to use in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of people at work and persons not at work but who may be affected by work activities.

What you are entitled to expect from the Officer

  • A courteous manner
  • To be shown identification
  • Feedback from the inspection, i.e. information on health, safety and welfare issues identified during the visit, advice on how to comply with legal requirements and the timescale for compliance
  • A clear distinction between what are legal requirements and advice/recommendations
  • A written summary of actions required – this may be in the form of a report of inspection or a letter, and will give details of the regulations contravened and an indication of the timescale for completion of the works required.

What powers officers have

  • They can take samples and photographs, they can disable, dismantle or confiscate equipment, and they can inspect and take copies of documents
  • They may write formally requesting that works be done or faults rectified
  • They may serve Improvement Notices that require works to be done
  • Where they consider that activities pose a risk of serious personal injury they may serve a Prohibition Notice prohibiting activities either immediately or with effect at the end of a stated period of time
  • In the most serious cases they may decide to recommend a prosecution

You must not obstruct Officers.

What to do if you think that the outcome is unfair

If you do not agree with the course of action taken by the Officer you should firstly contact the Principal Environmental Health Officer in order to resolve the matter informally. If you are still not satisfied you can:

The purpose of the health and safety legislation is to promote, stimulate and encourage high standards of health and safety at work by involving everyone – management and employees – and making them aware of their roles and responsibilities.

Further information can be found on the Health & Safety Executive's website.

Contact us

For further information, contact North Hertfordshire's District Council's Environmental Health Commercial team.