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Health and safety inspections - advice for businesses

We carry out inspections under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to help us protect the health, safety and well-being of business employees and members of the public.

On this page:

How we decide which businesses to inspect

We visit individual businesses based on risk. We concentrate our work where the risks are likely to be highest and where it will have the greatest impact, in particular:

  • to focus on matters of national or local concern - such as swimming pools, sunbeds or asbestos
  • where there is evidence that health and safety performance is poor - i.e., concerns noted at other visits (such as a food hygiene inspection, or visit by another agency)
  • to investigate a specific incident, such as an accident or work-related illness
  • to investigate a specific complaint
  • to assess the risks of new a new business or premises

During the inspection

Whatever the reason for the visit, we will be checking the standards of health, safety and welfare in your business and giving you advice, guidance and information on how to prevent people being made ill or injured at work.

We do not expect all risks in the workplace to be eliminated. Instead, we will want to see that you are taking sensible actions to reduce your health and safety risks.

When necessary, for example, where conditions are poor or there is blatant disregard for the law, our officers can use their enforcement powers to require improvements, including serving notices and prosecution where appropriate.

Enforcing health and safety

Whilst our emphasis is to help businesses to avoid significant health and safety risks and to provide advice and guidance, we will use our enforcement powers to deal with those who put others at risk, particularly where they deliberately flout the law. We will do this in accordance with our enforcement policy.  We may:

  • send a letter which details the findings of our visit and explains any legal requirements, along with what is required to achieve compliance. It also provides guidance on how to generally improve health and safety standards
  • use our powers under Section 20 of the Health and Safety at Work Act which gives us considerable powers to investigate matters of concern, including, powers of entry, collection of evidence, detention of items, require information to be provided, and to take statements from individuals.
  • serve an improvement notice, this is a legal document that requires work to be done in a specified period of time
  • prohibition notice, this is a legal document immediately prohibiting an activity that has been identified as having the potential to cause serious personal harm

Failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice is an offence. However, employers do have a right of appeal to an industrial tribunal within a specified time period.

We may also consider it appropriate to prosecute a business for serious health and safety failings.

Health and Safety Enforcement Policy

The document below informs you how we enforce health and safety legislation. It also tells you what to expect from enforcement officers when they visit your business, and what guides them when carrying out inspections and dealing with breaches in the law.

Health and Safety Enforcement Policy (PDF) [127KB] (opens new window)

Further information

Visit the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website contains all the information you need to help you to manage health and safety in your business:

Contact us

Email:        |         Phone: 023 8028 5411

Food and Safety Team, Appletree Court, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, SO43 7PA

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