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Enforcing health and safety at work

The law gives local authority inspectors a wide range of powers such as the power to enter premises at any reasonable time and to carry out examinations and investigations.

To make sure that businesses comply with the law, we can:

  • enter premises at any reasonable time
  • carry out examinations and investigations
  • take measurements, photographs and samples
  • take possession of an article (telling you why and giving you a receipt)
  • have articles dismantled and tested
  • require information and take statements
  • inspect and copy documents.

What happens if we find a problem?

Our main aim is to help and advise. Occasionally we may need to take legal action, when we take a number of factors into account, including:

  • the degree of risk
  • the seriousness of the legal contravention
  • the group’s past record and general attitude to health and safety
  • whether there has been a blatant disregard for the law
  • whether there is sufficient evidence.

Legal action

We can require certain work to be undertaken within a specified timescale, or if a work activity is very dangerous, we can insist it be stopped.

We can issue the following types of notice:

  • improvement notices – these tell you what the problem is and what action you must take to rectify the problem within a certain time. The inspector will discuss the time limit with you, and explain how to get it extended if you have good reason
  • prohibition notices – these tell you what the problem is and require you to stop doing something until things are put right. These are only issued if the inspector thinks there is a risk of serious injury
  • failure to comply with either notice will usually result in the council prosecuting.

Informal action

Following an inspection, we will leave a report at the premises, or send it to the employer. This will include the problems found and the recommendations of how to remedy them. You will be given a timescale to complete the work.

If the work takes longer than you expect please contact us.

However, if we revisit the premises and find that the work has not been completed, we have the option of taking legal action.

Help with complying

If you need help to comply, please contact us.

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