Risk based inspections

Page updated on: 22/02/2018

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Our inspectors have the right to enter any workplace without giving notice. During a routine inspection 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.

Based on the degree of risk identified in relation to non-conformance, our 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.

Our officers will introduce themselves on arrival at your premises and will produce authorisation and identification, on request.

If there are union representatives or staff health and safety representatives at a premises, our officers will normally meet with these to identify any concerns or problems at the workplace.

Our officers have specific powers under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which they may use during the course of an inspection.

These include:

  • Entering the premises at any reasonable time
  • Carrying out examinations and investigations
  • Taking measurements, photographs and samples
  • Taking possession of articles or substances
  • Requiring people to give accurate information and taking statements from them
  • Inspecting and copying any relevant documents

During an inspection our officer will check that your organisation’s managers are aware of their health and safety responsibilities and request information or evidence to prove this, often in the form of risk assessments. The working environment and work activities will also be observed and examined.

The frequency of inspections is dependent on the activity undertaken at your premises and associated risks. Premises are rated following an inspection in accordance with national guidance. Frequencies range from annual inspections to inspections every four years. We may not routinely inspect low risk premises, however our officers will stay in contact with such businesses by alternative means. You will not be advised of the frequency of your inspections.

Authorised officers from our Public Protection team undertake inspections at appropriate premises within Carmarthenshire.

On finding a breach of health and safety law, our inspector will decide what action to take. The action will depend on the nature of the breach, and will be based on the principles set out in our Enforcement Policy. Our inspector will provide employees or their representatives with information about any action taken, or which is necessary for the purpose of keeping them informed about matters affecting their health, safety and welfare.

On finding a breach of health and safety law, the inspector will decide what action to take. The action will depend on the nature of the breach, and will be based on the principles set out in our Enforcement Policy. The inspector should provide employees or their representatives with information about any action taken, or which is necessary for the purpose of keeping them informed about matters affecting their health, safety and welfare.

There are several ways in which enforcement action can be administered in order to deal with a breach of the law. In most cases these are:

Informal: Where the breach of the law is relatively minor, the inspector may tell the duty holder, for example the employer or contractor, what to do to comply with the law, and explain why. The inspector will, then confirm any advice in writing, and distinguish between legal requirements and recommendations (best practice advice).

Improvement notice: Where the breach of the law is more serious, the inspector may issue an improvement notice to tell the duty holder to do something to comply with the law. The inspector will discuss the improvement notice and, if possible, resolve points of difference before serving it. The notice will say what needs to be done, why, and by when. The time period within which to take the remedial action will be at least 21 days, to allow the duty holder time to appeal to an industrial tribunal if they so wish. The inspector can take further legal action if the notice is not complied with within the specified time period.

Prohibition notice: Where an activity involves, or will involve, a risk of serious personal injury, the inspector may serve a prohibition notice prohibiting the activity immediately or after a specified time period, and not allowing it to be resumed until remedial action has been taken. The notice will explain why the action is necessary. The duty holder will be told in writing about the right of appeal to an industrial tribunal.

Prosecution: In some cases the inspector may consider that it is also necessary to initiate a prosecution. Decisions on whether to prosecute are informed by the principles in our Enforcement Policy. Health and safety law gives the courts considerable scope for punishing offenders and deterring others. For example, a failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice, or a court remedy order, carries a fine of up to £20,000, or six months imprisonment, or both. Unlimited fines and in some cases imprisonment may be imposed by higher courts.

A duty holder will be told in writing about the right of appeal to an industrial tribunal when an improvement or prohibition notice is served. The appeal mechanism is also explained on the reverse of the notice. The duty holder will be told:

  • How to appeal, and given a form with which to appeal
  • Where and within what period an appeal may be brought
  • That the remedial action required by an improvement notice is suspended while an appeal is pending