Advice for Employers
They've got the power!
Health and safety law is enforced by inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or by inspectors from your Local Authority.
- HSE or LA inspectors are a positive and powerful source of information for you to call upon when you need help and advice. You can, for example, invite them to your place of business to help you with risk assessment procedures in relation to your particular type of work.
- If you are uncertain about your legal obligations and duties, Health and Safety Inspectors can also offer you guidance. They will be able to explain the legal requirements with which you must comply as well as offering best practice advice for your circumstances.
- You can, if you wish, ask Health and Safety Inspectors to put their advice in writing. This will help you with the practical application of their guidance. You may find it useful to use their comments in the development of your wider health and safety policy.
- If a Health and Safety Inspector makes a routine visit to your workplace they will look at four main areas:
- your workplace (site)
- the work activities being carried out there
- your management of health and safety (including the way you provide information to your employees), and
- your compliance with health and safety law
If the inspector finds that things are satisfactory and generally in good order, they may offer you advice and guidance for ways you can improve on your current standards. Such advice should be taken. It is never wise to ignore it and carry on regardless.
If the inspector is unhappy with their routine inspection; or, if someone has reported bad practice at your workplace, you need to be aware that a health and safety inspector can do any or all of the following - and that you must comply with their wishes:
- Gain access to your workplace without a warrant at any time;
- Employ the police to help them carry out their duties - especially if they think you may object to the inspection!;
- Bring any equipment or materials onto your premises that they feel are necessary in order to carry out the inspection;
- Carry out any investigations and examinations of your premises that they think need to be done;
- Direct you to leave your workplace as they find it (leave the premises undisturbed) for a specified period of time - that being, until they finish with you;
- Take photographs of your premises, any measurements and samples that they may require to take away with them;
- Order the removal and testing of any equipment you may have on your premises;
- Take equipment away with them for examination and test purposes.
In fact, they have the power to do anything they need to do in order to carry out an inspection of your workplace. The more alarmed they are about what they find, the more they are likely to do!