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Health and safety at work - overview

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 applies to practically all people whether they are employers, employees, self-employed, contractors or visitors including the general public, who may be affected by work activities. The Act is supported by a comprehensive set of Regulations, Approved Codes of Practice and guidance relating to a wide range of work activities and specific hazards.

Health and safety at work is enforced jointly by the Council's Environmental Health Commercial Team and by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In general terms the Council is responsible for enforcement in businesses such as offices, shops, leisure facilities, distribution and catering premises, whereas the HSE enforces in more high risk and manufacturing premises.

The Commercial Team works with businesses in different ways to ensure they are health & safety compliant. Those businesses that are assessed as high risk receive a regular routine inspection to ensure that minimum legal standards are maintained. The team also works closely with local businesses and employees to help them both meet their legal obligations and to improve health and safety in the workplace through the In Partnership project and topic based interventions.

Further information on the law and its implications for employers, employees and the self-employed can be found in a free HSE booklet called 'An Introduction to Health & Safety'.

‘Safer Workplace, Better Business’

‘Safer workplace, better business’ is a health and safety management system designed for small and medium-sized businesses. It provides a standard for businesses to achieve, and explains why there is a standard. The management system deals with significant hazards and asks you to assess general workplace hazards. It enables you to have regard and good management for significant risks.

Accidents at Work

Reporting accidents and ill health at work is a legal requirement. The information gained can help the local authority to identify where and how risks arise and prevent further injury and ill health. The team will carry out investigations into reportable accidents in accordance with the Council's Accident Investigation Policy.

Complaints about Working Conditions

For certain categories of commercial premises the Council  will deal with complaints about issues of health, safety and welfare.

Cooling Towers

In order to assist with the control of legionnaires disease, the Council maintain a list of business premises within North Hertfordshire who operate cooling towers.


For certain categories of business premises the Council accept notifications from licensed contractors for works involved with the removal of asbestos. The Commercial team will give advice to householders on the safe removal and disposal of asbestos.

Skin Piercing

The Council issue registrations under local byelaws for businesses engaged in tattooing, acupuncture, electrolysis, semi permanent skin colouring and cosmetic piercing.