What are local HSE inspectors looking for?

The HSE has published updated guidance for local authorities, suggesting priorities for health and safety enforcement. What can you expect?

The setting. Under the Enforcing Authority Regulations 1998 the HSE shares responsibility for health and safety enforcement with local authorities (LAs). The Regulations have the effect of allocating different types of business to either the HSE or LAs, with LAs focusing on the high street and retail parks. The HSE does not directly manage LA health and safety inspectors, but nevertheless it has considerable influence and the main way this occurs is via guidance documents. The latest, Setting Local Authority Priorities and Targeting Interventions(LAC 67/2) , provides guidance and tools to help LAs prioritise and target their enforcement action with the businesses under their regulatory control.

What’s on the horizon? If your business comes under your LA inspectors’ remit, such as a retail or warehouse site, you could receive a visit, especially when:

(1) a complaint regarding health and safety has been received by the LA;
(2) it becomes aware through local intelligence of a risk of serious injury or health; or
(3) there is a serious incident.

Prominent. Certain risks will receive proactive attention as outlined in Annex A of LAC 67/2 . These include:

(1) play inflatables;
(2) dispense gases;
(3) animal visitor attractions;
(4) gas installations in commercial catering premises; and
(5) control of construction work by client organisations.

Inspectors are also asked to remind businesses receiving deliveries that, where practicable, toilet and rest facilities should be made available to visiting drivers. The risks to the public from accessing large waste and recycling bins are to be highlighted, and inspectors are asked to promote the importance of worker involvement in health and safety.

Tip. Although proactive inspections by LA inspectors are rare, be prepared for one if you have a cooling tower or evaporative condenser, run a petting farm, have a caravan or camping park, run high volume warehousing and distribution, operate a care home or organise events needing crowd control.

Inspectors are likely to appear if there is a complaint or an incident suggesting staff or others are at risk. Priority sectors for visits include high volume warehouses and care homes.

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