Health and safety inspections and enforcement

Health and safety inspections and enforcement

This guide provides information about health and safety inspections and enforcement including:

  • what happens in inspections
  • powers of inspectors
  • how to appeal
Safety at work during the Coronavirus pandemic
Preventing Legionella

During the lockdown, many business premises have been temporarily closed and may not have been occupied for some time. Water lying in pipes and other water systems may have allowed Legionella bugs to grow.

When these services are reopened, there is a risk that this contaminated water will become an aerosol, especially from shower heads, taps, and also more specialist equipment such as hot tubs, cooling towers or other facilities.

It is important to consider your reopening procedure in time to be able to book in water treatment specialists, facilities management teams etc so that you are ready to open your doors when the time comes.
If water systems have been unused during the ‘lockdown’, they need to be maintained and brought back to full use according to best practice guidance, and Health and Safety Executive advice. It is important to demonstrate that you are achieving effective control of water quality during your closure, to avoid the very real risk of problems such as Legionella, other micro-organisms or algae growth.
The Health and Safety Executive website has lots of information on what you need to do to prevent these problems. 

We recommend that you review your existing risk assessment and follow guidance on measures including water inspection, cleaning, monitoring and recording. 

Hot and cold water systems and cooling towers

The ESGLI have provided guidance for managing legionella in building water systems This checklist from the HSE website applies to all hot and cold water systems and cooling towers. See the ESCMID website for further information.  

This checklist from the HSE website applies to all hot and cold water systems and cooling towers: Control of legionella bacteria in water systems - audit checklists. Find it on the HSE website.

Managing a pool during closure

If you have a swimming pool or spa pool the options are to reduce or stop water circulation. See The Pool water Treatment Advisory Group website for Guidance on temporary pool closure. 

Local businesses are facing extreme challenges at the moment and Kensington and Chelsea Council stands with its business community. Your continued compliance with the government’s requirement to remain closed is very important and will help to save lives.

Please visit Council’s Coronavirus pages for all the latest advice and support for businesses If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact the Health and Safety Team at: [email protected]  or tel: 0207 361 3002.

RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19

You must make a report under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) when: 

  • An unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
  • A worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
  • A worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus. See the Health and Safety Executive website for more information on when it is appropriate to report Covid 19 cases.
What will happen to Health and Safety after Brexit?

The Government have made minor amendments to regulations to remove EU references but legal requirements will remain the same as they are now. See the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website for more information. Health and safety standards will be maintained. See the Brexit page of the HSE website for further advice.

Who visits/ inspects commercial businesses for health and safety purposes?

Either an Environmental Health Officer or an authorised Technical Officer employed by the Council will inspect commercial businesses in the borough.

Always ask to see some form of official identification – if in doubt telephone 020 7361 3002.

Health and safety visits and inspections are usually unannounced. What happens during the inspection will depend on the size and nature of the business.

Do officers have to have a reason to visit/ inspect the premises?

Officers will usually have a reason for visiting the premises, including if there has been:

  • a health and safety related complaint about the premises
  • an accident or incident reported at the premises
  • an adverse insurance report such as a lift examination report
  • intelligence received locally or via the HSE
What happens during an inspection?

The officer(s) will:

  • talk to staff about your procedures and practices
  • inspect parts of your premises and equipment relevant to the complaint, enquiry or accident investigation
  • talk to you about staff training, controlling hazards and risks, and dealing with accidents
  • request relevant documentation including risk assessment, safety policy, maintenance records, accident book and staff training records
  • take samples and photos
What powers do inspectors have?

Inspectors have the power to:

  • take samples and photographs, and inspect records
  • write informally asking the proprietor to put right any problems they find
  • serve an improvement notice if they identify a breach of the law
  • detain or seize equipment
  • recommend prosecution in serious cases
  • serve a prohibition notice that forbids the use of part or all of a premises or equipment​ if there is an imminent risk to the public or employees
What am I entitled to expect from the inspectors?

You can expect our inspectors to:

  • have a courteous manner
  • show identification
  • give feedback and guidance such as how to avoid risks and hazards
  • clearly distinguish between what you must do to comply with the law and what is recommended because it is good practice
  • give you the reasons in writing for any action you are asked to take
  • show where there is an apparent breach of law
  • give you reasonable time to meet statutory health requirements, except where there is an immediate risk to public health
  • outline procedures for appealing against local authority action​
May I refuse entry?

No. It is a criminal offence to obstruct an authorised officer in the course of his or her duty.

What should I do if I receive an improvement notice?

You should take immediate steps to ensure that you comply with it within the specified time period. If you do not comply you may be prosecuted.

If you cannot comply within the time period contact the Environmental Health Department immediately.

You must also let the inspector know of the progress that you are making to comply with the notice.

Who governs what the officers do?

The officers must comply with and/or adhere to:

  • the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and all associated regulations
  • guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive
  • the Enforcement Concordat
What can I do if I think the outcome is not fair?

If you do not agree the inspector's decisions, contact the Health and Safety Team Manager on 020 7361 3002. They will try to resolve the issue with you informally.

If you are still not happy you can refer your complaint to Head of Environmental Health Commercial for further investigation.

You can escalate your complaint again if you're still unhappy and possibly refer it to the Ombudsman.

You can also:

Health and Safety court hearings

Authorised Environmental Health Officers can ask local authority legal services to institute legal proceedings against an employer or employee if they consider that there has been a contravention of the legislation. It is up to the courts to decide the verdict and impose the sentence.

The magistrate's role is to:

  • hear the prosecution case and the defendant's plea
  • decide on a guilty or not guilty verdict
  • issue warrants for arrest, seizure or entry
  • impose unlimited fines ​to refer case to Crown or criminal courts
  • offer defendant trial with jury at a higher court
  • to award costs to successful party

Role of Crown or criminal courts:

  • trial by indictment
  • impose unlimited fines
  • imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years

You have a right of appeal if you are served with a health and safety notice or found guilty.

The appeal of a health and safety notice must be presented to a tribunal office within 21 days of the date the notice was served. 

Details of the method of making an appeal (T420: Making a claim to an Employment Tribunal) and a form to use (ET 1) are available from the HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

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Last updated: 4 June 2020