Unnecessary Health and Safety Inspections Banned
A new code which came into effect at the end of May effectively bans local authorities from carrying out “unnecessary” health and safety inspections.
The Health and Safety Executive’s statutory National Enforcement Code for local authorities will instead require proactive council inspections on higher risk activities in specified sectors, or when there is intelligence of workplaces putting employees or the public at risk.
Employment Minister Mark Hoban explained: “We need health and safety that protects people where there are real risks but doesn’t stifle businesses. There are too many examples of local councils imposing unnecessary burdens by inspecting low risk businesses.” He further stated that the new code should put a stop to this by putting common sense back into the system.
While tens of thousands of businesses will be removed from health and safety inspections which are not justified on a risk basis – including most shops and offices – checks will continue on poor performers and at sites where there are higher risk activities.
HSE list ten activities/sectors than local authorities must concentrate on:
The new code has been backed by the Federation of Small Businesses which stressed that low-risk, compliant businesses should be able to concentrate on growth.
If such businesses believe they are being unreasonably targeted, they will, the HSE said, be able to complain to an independent panel, which will investigate and issue a public judgment.
These changes are part of HSE’s business plan for 2012-2015 whereby HSE aims to:
- Reduce and simplify the stock of regulation without reducing levels of protection
- Make it easier for people to understand what is required, leading to increased levels of compliance
- Devote a greater proportion of effort where risks are highest and where it can have greatest impact
- Continue to hold to account those who expose their employees and others to unnecessary risk
- Draw a clearer distinction between real health and safety and the bureaucratic over-interpretation that gets in the way.
The HSE says these aspects should in turn lead to better leadership and implementation by employers, as well as greater engagement of employees.
The plan emphasises the HSE’s intention to “target and conduct inspections of those sectors and activities which give rise to the most serious risks or where risks are least well controlled”.
The code can be viewed at www.hse.gov.uk/lau/publications/national-la-code.pdf.