Health and Safety at Work

Health and Safety officers within the Council's Environmental Commercial Services section have a responsibility for ensuring that health and safety law is complied with:

  • Enforcement of the Health and Safety at work etc. Act 1974 and associated regulations to ensure high standards of health and safety at work to protect both employees and the public
  • Types of premises inspected by local authority governed by the Health & Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998, e.g. offices, shops, swimming pools, residential homes, skin piercing establishments, hairdressers, fitness centre, tyre & exhaust centres, churches etc.
  • The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) are responsible for enforcement of more complex industrial premises including manufacturers, motor repairers, nursing homes etc.
  • The main areas of activity are the routine inspection of workplaces and the investigation of work related accidents, complaints and enquiries.
  • Officers have the right to enter any workplace and inspect it, look at the work activities and management systems, checking whether there is compliance. Officers may also take samples, photographs and evidence to help in determining the level of compliance and the action to be taken.
  • The individual officer decides the appropriate course of action, this may be guidance or advice, which can be verbal or confirmed in writing.
  • Where the breach is more serious an Improvement Notice may be served telling the duty holder to do something to comply with the law. This notice has to say what needs to be done, why and by when.
  • If the Officer is of the opinion that there is serious risk of personal injury, a Prohibition Notice is served which immediately stops the activity, only allowing it to resume once remedial action has been taken.
  • In some cases the Officer may also consider it necessary to initiate a prosecution and the legislation gives the courts considerable scope for punishing offenders and deterring others.

The Commercial Services team provides information to employers or employees on all aspects of health and safety at work.

Regulations

The basis of British health and safety law is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The Act sets out the general duties which employers have towards employees and members of the public, and employees have to themselves and to each other.

The degree of risk in a particular job or workplace needs to be balanced against the time, trouble, cost and physical difficulty of taking measures to avoid or reduce the risk, in other words the principle of 'so far as is reasonably practicable'

The law requires good management and common sense looking at the hazards, assessing the risks and taking sensible measures to control them.

Various regulations such as The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 generally make more explicit what employers are required to do to manage health and safety and apply across the full range of workplaces.

Officers from the Commercial Team carry out routine inspections of premises in accordance with a priority risk rated programme, and investigate complaints or accident reports taking any necessary enforcement action.

Options available to them include the service of notices requiring work to be carried out, prohibition of activities or recommending prosecution.