This month I would like to look at the ENFORCEMENT of the Health & Safety Legislation.
Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 two bodies were set up
1. The Health & Safety Commission (HSC) - set up to organise the Government approach to safety. It makes appropriate arrangements for research and publication of information and makes proposals for making of new Regulations.
2. the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) - set up as the administrative wing specifically to enforce the 'relevant statutory provisions'
Under the Regulations of 1989, Environmental Health Officers (EHO) of the Local Council have taken on the responsibility of certain areas from HSE, in addition to their existing duties - principally Food Safety.
The HSE/ EHO carry out the task in various ways · routine visits by the inspector to ensure that the business is carried on safely.
Basically the HSE look after
and the EHO look after
They both have the power to :
Both HSE and EHO, in general, make an appointment to visit unless such an action would be detrimental to their investigations.
They both have certain powers under the Act and there is a basic hierarchy of actions an Inspector can take:-
ADVICE It is in the best interest of safety that the inspector tries to educate and help the employer, as many of the regulations are quite hard to understand - this is probably the main work an inspector carries out. I have yet to find an inspector who is not very willing to help and advise on any safety issue. He usually identifies items which require improvement and suggests that when he visits again he will be verifying that these have been completed
IMPROVEMENT NOTICES If however there is anything that should be improved immediately, the inspector will identify it and suggest that the 'problem be improved ' over a given period . - usually 21 days.
PROHIBITION NOTICES If there is anything which is too dangerous to allow to be continued, the inspector will order it to be stopped immediately. The activity can only be resumed when the 'problem' has been resolved and repaired and been re-inspected
SERVE LEGAL NOTICE Employers who have not co-operated with the above will be told that they must by law comply and that failure to do so will result in Court prosecution In England & Wales, an Inspector can institute proceedings in the Crown Court or Magistrates Court whereas in Scotland, he must place it before the Procurator Fiscal who will decide whether or not to institute proceedings.
PROSECUTION This is the final action and is only resorted to when the employer is being totally obstructive or has ignored all previous admonitions or has caused his employees to be placed at great risk through his negligence. Depending on the Regulation, a fine of £5000 up to £20,000 or a six month prison sentence is possible.
One of the main reasons that Inspectors arrive on the workplace is that an accident has been reported. An accident is proof that something in the workplace is not adequately controlled. This is the usual way a bad/ slipshod employer is discovered. · Under RIDDOR ( Reporting Of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995) a serious accident at work must be reported to the HSE/ EHO.
Should one of the above accidents occur at your workplace, you must inform your inspecting body as quickly as possible - HSE or EHO - usually initially by telephone or on HSE Website or by filling in the requisite form (F2508) See HSE RIDDOR WEBSITE
Remember that, ·
The hospital will be required to inform the Authorities of the accident involving hospitalisation for more than 24 hours.
The Office dealing with Sickness Payments will also be required to inform the Authorities for accidents which result in more than 3 days absence from work
- the Employer who neglects to inform the appropriate authorities can be fined heavily.
An Inspector will visit to confirm the circumstances of the accident and will take the opportunity to inspect the rest of the workplace. This is where the screw usually begins to turn!!
The first question now asked is - Can I see your Risk Assessment for the task which was being carried out when the accident occurred??
This is the question you should always ask yourself with any accident, no matter how trivial - and if you don't have a Risk Assessment - make one NOW, it could save you a lot of problems and heartache later!!!!!!