The purpose of health and safety inspections

  • To identify contraventions of and to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation
  • To identify potential risks arising from the work activities and ensure that sensible and appropriate controls have been identified and are being implemented
  • To offer advice and implement joint work themes with neighbouring London boroughs and the Health and Safety Executive

Who enforces the Health and Safety Work act 1974?

The enforcement of the Health and Safety at Work Act in England is split between Local Authority (LA's) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE is responsible for factories, construction, food manufacturers and the public service sector.

The LA's are responsible for offices, shops, warehouses and the service sector.

More details of this enforcement split can be found in Health and Safety (Enforcement Authority) Regulations 1988 (Health and Safety Executive website).

However there is now a greater move to partnership working between the HSE and LA's with joint working projects being developed in London.

The inspection

Environmental Health and Technical Officers have the authority to enter work premises at all reasonable hours and without prior notice.

In the case of a routine inspection the Officer will identify themselves (all Merton employees carry photographic identification) and explain the reason for the visit.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 it is an offence to obstruct an officer in the course of their duties. Obstruction may be physical or it may be the refusal to provide information.

You can find more information about what to expect from a visit and the powers of an inspector in the leaflet What to expect when a health and safety inspector calls leaflet (HSC14) (Health and Safety Executive website)

The inspection report

At the completion of the inspection, the officer will write a report for the duty holder detailing any matters, which were apparent at the time of the visit and which require attention.

The report will specify and distinguish between those matters that are required by law and those representing good practice.

Follow up action

Depending on the nature of the issues found an officer may take the following course of action to ensure compliance or protect public safety:

  • Verbal advice
  • A letter or informal notice
  • An improvement notice
  • A deferred or immediate prohibition notice
  • A prosecution
  • Dangerous or suspect equipment can be made safe or seized

The appropriate course of action will depend on the circumstances found, the past history and reference is also made to the divisions enforcement policy.

For more details download the Policy Statement on Enforcement.

Public register of health and safety notices

Under the Environment and Safety information Act 1988 the council is required to keep a public register of improvement and prohibition notices. This requirement relates to those notices, which are served to protect the general public at large. The Public Register can be viewed at Public Register of Health and Safety Enforcement Notices.

Public register of prosecutions

The Health and Safety Executive maintains a public register of all prosecutions taken under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974 and associated regulations. To view this register visit HSE Public Register of Convictions (Health and Safety Executive website)

Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel

The Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel provides an independent means for any person (whether companies or individuals ) to complain about the actions of Local Authority Regulators.

The panel will consider complaints from companies or individuals who have been visited by a Local Authority Health and Safety Inspector and who believe that the visit was not justified as being in accordance with a risk based approach to targeting proactive inspections or where the advice given is either not correct nor proportionate to the risk.

The panel will not consider complaints where the company or individual is subject to statutory notices or prosecution as recourse to employment tribunals or the courts provides an established mechanism of appeal.

Equally it will not deal with determinations on enforcement action taken subject to Primary Authority arrangements as there is an existing procedure to follow.

If you believe any advice or enforcement we have given is incorrect, you should initially contact the relevant officer in order to resolve the matter.

If we have not been able to resolve the matter to your satisfaction you can refer your complaint to the challenge panel through the link below;

Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel (HSE website)

Related websites

Contact us

Environmental Health Commercial
Merton Council
Merton Civic Centre
London Road

Tel. No 020 8545 3025