The health and safety people visit my business – Why?
Coronavirus (COVID-19): update
Guidance on spot checks and inspections during coronavirus
HSE and local authorities share responsibility for regulating health, safety and welfare for those at work and for those affected by work activity, including the public.
We want health and safety to be seen as a cornerstone of a civilised society and so achieve a record of workplace health and safety that leads the world (we already have one of the best safety records). We are working for this in partnerships with businesses, with workers and their trades unions. We provide advice, guidance and information – both nationally and locally.
We also help achieve our aims by visiting individual businesses. How do HSE and local authorities decide which ones to visit? We do this on the basis of risk. We concentrate our work where the risks are likely to be highest and where it will have the greatest impact, in particular where:
- We have evidence that health and safety performance is poor – either in your own business or sector, or if the type of work you do shows a high rate of accidents or ill health. Whilst visiting your business our staff will concentrate on the risks identified as priorities for national health and safety improvements (for instance falls from height or on the level) because they have the greatest potential to improve health and safety performance nationally.
- You operate in one of a number of hazardous industries (for example, offshore, nuclear, rail, some chemicals, and explosives). Most of these industries operate under a safety case or licensing regime. This requires us to carry out a prior assessment of a safety case you will have prepared setting out how you have identified and controlled the hazards in your business which could endanger both your workers and\or members of the public. When we visit your business we are seeking assurance that the various controls, both engineering and organisational, are in place and being operated effectively within a proportionate and positive health and safety culture.
- We want to investigate a specific incident (accident or work related illness) or complaint. We concentrate our efforts here on the most severe incidents - those resulting in deaths or major injuries - or those that link to our priorities for national health and safety improvements. Our inspectors’ investigation will seek to find out what went wrong and to learn the lessons both for your business and for others that do similar type of work.
HSE and local authority staff also carry out a limited number of visits to:
- Make an assessment of the risks in new businesses or premises
- Target certain geographical areas or sectors usually to concentrate on specific priorities such as bad backs or workplace transport
- Do random ‘spot checks’ on compliance
- Keep abreast of new developments and processes or for training purposes
For multi-site enterprises, we aim to focus on the whole business, rather than individual premises, and on how you achieve consistent standards - to avoid duplication and repetition.
Whilst local authorities target their effort on nationally agreed priorities and on responding to accidents and complaints, they may also focus on issues that are particular priorities for local communities.
Whatever the reason for the visit, we will be checking the standards of health, safety and welfare in your business and giving you advice on how to prevent people being made ill or injured at work.
We do not believe that all risks in the workplace can be eliminated. Instead, we will want to see that you are taking sensible actions to reduce your health and safety risks. Where necessary, for example where conditions are poor or there is blatant disregard for the law, our staff can use their powers to require improvements, including prosecution where appropriate.
We hope you find this explanation of why we visit businesses, how we prioritise and what we do when we are in your business helpful. If you want to give us some feedback on whether you found this useful and clear please send your comments to [email protected]
If you want to find out more information about what we do and how we do it, you should find the following links helpful.
Our strategies and plans
Investigations and Enforcement
Constituent parts of HSE and their people
If you want to know more about some of the constituent parts of HSE use the following links:-