Health and safety inspections and enforcement

Health and safety enforcement

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.

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

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 hearingsAuthorised 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

AppealsYou 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.

Privacy Notice

Privacy Notice for Health and Safety.