Inspections of the workplace

Formal inspections can take different forms and you and your representatives will need to agree the best methods for your workplace. Here are some of the ways inspections can take place.

  • Safety tours - general inspections of the workplace
  • Safety sampling - systematic sampling of particular dangerous activities, processes or areas
  • Safety surveys - general inspections of particular dangerous activities, processes or areas
  • Incident inspections carried out after an accident causing a fatality, injury, or near miss, which could have resulted in an injury, or case of ill health and has been reported to the health and safety enforcing authority.

Sample forms

Sample forms you and your safety representatives may find helpful are available on the HSE website for:

  • recording that an inspection by a safety representative has taken place (Form F2534 ) ; and
  • notifying you that there are unsafe or unhealthy conditions or working practices, and unsatisfactory arrangements for welfare at work (Form F2533 ).
  • A Word version of both these forms (F2534 and F2533) is also available for you to download.

Where a health and safety representative has drawn your attention to the findings of an inspection they have carried out, you should consider the matter and decide what appropriate follow-up action should be taken.

Inspecting the workplace

Union-appointed health and safety representatives can inspect the workplace. They have to give reasonable notice in writing when they intend to carry out a formal inspection of the workplace, and have not inspected it in the previous three months. If there is substantial change in conditions of work or HSE publishes new information on hazards, the representatives are entitled to carry out inspections before three months have elapsed, or if it is by agreement.

The frequency of inspections will depend on the nature of the work. Inspections may be less often, for example, if the work environment is low risk like in a predominantly administrative office. But if there are certain areas of a workplace or specific activities that are high risk or changing rapidly, more frequent inspection may be justified, for example on a construction project.

Good practice

  • Plan a programme of inspections - you and your representatives can plan a programme of inspections in advance...
  • Agree the number of representatives - agree the number of representatives taking part in any one formal inspection...
  • Co-ordinate inspections - plan inspections if there is more than one representative, because they can then co-ordinate their inspections to avoid unnecessary duplication.
  • Inspect together - it will help your relationship with the representatives if you inspect together...
  • Consult specialists - if there is a safety officer or specialist advisers...
  • Break down tasks - for larger workplaces, it may not be practical to conduct a formal inspection of the entire workplace in a single session...

Following-up after an inspection

After an inspection:

  • Explain the reasons for any follow-up action you decide to take to your representatives.
  • Let the representative who notified you of the inspection have the opportunity to inspect again so they can check if the issues raised got appropriate attention, and record their views.
  • Share the follow-up action taken throughout the workplace and other relevant parts of the business, including the health and safety committee where there is one.

There may be times when action may not be appropriate, you may not be able to act within a reasonable period of time, or when the action you take is not acceptable to your safety representatives. It is advisable to explain the reasons for the action you have decided to take in writing to your representatives. You can even use the sample inspection form [PDF 16KB] and report form [PDF 16KB] on the HSE website to do this.

You remain responsible for taking decisions about managing health and safety, but by explaining the reasons for actions and being open with your representatives, you can show that you have considered what they had to say.

Case study: Springfield Fuels

Springfield Fuels, a nuclear fuel fabrication facility, ensures everyone on site is involved when making decisions about their employees' health and wellbeing. Their partnership approach has resulted in joint working groups, joint accident investigations, and several other effective initiatives because they recognise that everyone has a part to play in managing health and safety...
Read the Springfield Fuels case study

Investigating accidents, hazards and complaints

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