Health and safety officers carry out inspections to ensure that employers are aware of their legal duties and to assess compliance with current legislation.
Premises are inspected at a frequency determined by the hazards associated with the workplace and how well the risks are controlled. The inspector will allocate the premise with a, "risk rating" following the inspection based upon his/her findings.
What to expect during the inspection
Inspections are usually made unannounced with the manager of the business. The inspector may also wish to speak to employees, health and safety representatives, trade union representatives and other interested parties.
During the inspection the officer will ask to examine paperwork such as:
- Company health and safety policy
- Risk assessment
- COSHH assessment (control of substances hazardous to health)
- Accident book/records
- Training records
- Maintenance records, for example, the workplace and work equipment
- Internal inspection reports
- Certificates, for example, electrical installation and gas appliances examinations
- Emergency procedures
A physical inspection of the workplace will also be carried out to determine:
- Condition/cleanliness of the premises such as external structure and internal walls, floors, ceilings, windows, traffic routes, fixtures and fittings
- Provision of welfare facilities such as toilets, washing/drying facilities, drinking water, rest rooms and storage for clothing
- Condition of external areas such as car parks, pedestrian walkways
- Workplace comfort such as temperature, ventilation, lighting, workstations, room dimensions and space
- Condition and location of work equipment
Following the inspection
At the end of the inspection the officer will advise you of his/her findings. The officer will follow up the visit with a report outlining the requirements necessary to comply with the legislation.
In some cases, it may be necessary to take immediate formal action if the officer finds anything that presents a serious risk to health and/or safety.
- Improvement notices may be served where the officer is of the opinion that a person(s) is contravening legal requirements. The notice will outline what is wrong and give a time limit for compliance.
- Prohibition notices may be served where there is a serious risk of personal injury. The notice directs a person not to carry out specified activities.
- Prosecution is also an option where there is a blatant disregard for the law, a reckless disregard for health and safety, repeated breaches or failure to comply with notices.