A HSE inspection is an inspection carried out by the Health and Safety Executive in order to prevent death, injury or ill health within the workplace.
The HSE regulator has been established for 40 years, and working together with the local authorities (LA’s) has resulted in the UK being one of the safest places in the world to work.
Why are HSE inspections important?
The purpose of the inspections are to reduce or even eliminate any risks to employees, customers or the general public within the workplace. Whether it’s hygiene, cleanliness or risk assessments, HSE inspections are there to protect the welfare of the public by identifying dangerous risks and encouraging the business owners to rectify the issues. Failing to do so can result in the business owner being fined and prosecuted and the business temporarily or indefinitely closed.
What businesses does a HSE inspection effect?
Health and safety inspections affect anyone that is in business, has duties under health and safety law (‘dutyholders’), is an employer to employees or in control of a workplace. Simply put, if you employ staff or have a workplace that is accessible to employees or the public, you are responsible for ensuring your business meets all of the required health and safety criteria.
It is the duty of the business owner to assess the health and safety risks within the business and comply to the current health and safety laws and prevent the risk of danger within the business.
Businesses that are high risk or manage food have to take extra precautions to ensure the correct levels of safety and hygiene are met.
Inspections can take place at random, however most businesses will be notified of an upcoming inspection. Inspectors have the right to enter and assess a property at any time.
What happens during a HSE inspection?
Health and safety law is enforced by inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or by inspectors from your local authority.
Inspectors have the right to enter any workplace without giving notice, though notice may be given where the inspector thinks it is appropriate. On a normal inspection visit, an inspector would expect to look at the workplace, the work activities, your management of health and safety, and to check that you are complying with health and safety law. The inspector may offer guidance or advice to help you. They may also talk to employees and their representatives, take photographs and samples, serve improvement notices and take action if there is a risk to health and safety which needs to be dealt with immediately.
If an inspection has been carried out within the last three months, a further inspection will not be carried out. However, If the conditions of the workplace have seen substantial changes or if new information is published by the HSE, a representative is entitled to carry out another inspection before the three months have lapsed or if it is by agreement.
An inspector’s key role is to:
- Investigate: If an accident has occurred or a complaint has been made, whether people are at risk or not, the inspector will investigate to find out if something has gone wrong, why it has gone wrong, and if it can be prevented from happening again.
- Instruct: The inspector will require you to take action to control risks properly if you are not already complying with the current health and safety laws.
- Enforce: The inspector will take appropriate enforcement action in relation to any non-compliance. This can range from advice on stopping dangerous work activities to potentially resulting in prosecutions where people are put at serious risk.
- Advise: The inspector will provide advice and guidance to help you and your business comply with the law and avoid injuries and ill health at work in the future.
Inspections come in different forms and it is down to your HSE representative to agree on the most suitable method for your workplace. The main forms of inspection are listed below.
- Safety tours – a general inspection of the workplace.
- Safety sampling– systematic sampling of particular dangerous activities, processes or areas.
- Safety surveys– a general inspection of particular dangerous activities, processes or areas.
- Incident inspections – carried out after an accident causing a fatality, injury, or near miss, which could have resulted in an injury, or case of ill health and has been reported to the health and safety enforcing authority.
How are HSE inspections scored?
The frequency and way in which your workplace is scored by the heath and safety representative is dependent on the type of work and activities carried out within the workplace. Inspections will be carried out less, for example, if the work environment is low risk like in a predominantly administrative office. But if there are certain areas of a workplace or specific activities that are high risk or constantly changing, such as factories or construction, more frequent inspections are likely.
Post inspection, It is your duty to consider what appropriate follow-up action should be taken to anything that the health and safety representative has drawn to your attention.
For more information go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/howwework/inspections.htm