Health & Safety Inspections

Do you know where to look when you are doing a Health & Safety inspection?

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In a busy work environment, Health & Safety regulations can easily be overlooked

This is particularly the case in smaller enterprises where owners juggle multiple priorities.

So, having Ellis Whittam make sure you’re complying with them is vital – especially as you otherwise risk a costly breach fine – the resulting negative publicity can also damage your reputation beyond repair! 

Duty of Care & Inspections

As an employer, you have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of your employees and anyone else who might be affected by your activities.

This requires you to monitor, maintain and review your arrangements – including routinely inspecting them to check:

  • the required Health & Safety standards are being met
  • you’re effectively controlling Health & Safety risks

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Health & Safety inspections take different forms including:

  • safety tours – general inspection of the workplace
  • safety sampling – systematic sampling of particular dangerous activities, processes or areas
  • safety surveys – general inspection of particular dangerous activities, processes or areas
  • safety representative inspections – the Safety Representative & Safety Committee Regulations 1977 allow for workplace inspection if there’s ‘reasonable notice in writing’
  • incident inspections – after an accident causing a fatality, injury, or ‘near-miss’
  • visits from Health & Safety Executive or local authority inspectors – they have strong enforcement powers and can enter your premises without permission or notice 

Safety Inspection Aims

General routine inspections are meant to:

  • look for workplace hazards or potential hazards – it’s important to identify them before they cause harm
  • find out whether staff have any problems in doing their jobs
  • look at how work is being done – are safe systems of work being followed?
  • ensure compliance with Health & Safety legislation

Inspection also provides an opportunity to proactively demonstrate your commitment to achieving a safe and healthy workplace.

What does a General Safety Inspection involve?

A general workplace inspection should look at, and this just a short list:

  • machinery – is it sufficiently maintained and guarded?
  • systems of work – are designs safe and still being followed?
  • hazardous substances – are they used and stored safely?
  • manual handling – are staff adequately trained and using correct aids?
  • workplace – is housekeeping good (no trailing wires etc)?
  • fire precautions – are extinguishers in place and escape routes clear?
  • welfare facilities – is a stocked first aid box in place, are toilets clean?

Avoid the temptation to routinely wander around – otherwise less obvious hazards can readily be missed. In addition to a physical inspection, you will need to carefully review your:

  • management system to check its appropriate
  • paperwork (risk assessments, equipment test certificates etc) to check its legally compliant

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Any identified issues will form an action plan. Someone must be responsible for monitoring the plan to ensure action is taken.

The outcome must be recorded, along with the responsibilities and action timescales.

How often should you Inspect?

Much depends on the nature of your work.

Inspections may be required less often, for example, if the work environment is low risk such as in an administrative office.

But more frequent inspection will be needed if certain workplace areas or specific activities are high risk, or change rapidly or significantly.

Who should carry out the Safety Inspection?

You can carry out an inspection yourself or you can have it done externally. Ellis Whittam’s Health & Safety support can manage this for you.

One way of minimising the chances of less obvious hazards being missed is to have a fresh pair of eyes do the inspection – they may question things that have come to be accepted as ‘always being like that’.

But whoever inspects, they must have sufficient knowledge and experience to enable them to know:

  • what to look at
  • what to look for
  • what to do if they find a problem

Indeed, if the inspection isn’t carried out by a competent professional, there’ll be a higher chance errors and problems won’t be detected.

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 say employers must have Health & Safety assistance from a ‘Competent Person’. In other words, the person doing the inspection must be able to make sure you’re:

  • suitably managing Health & Safety risks
  • complying with Health & Safety law

The regulations go on to say the ‘Competent Person’ must have ‘sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities’.

Get Specialist Help

Inspections are really important – not least because they help to check everything’s in keeping with what’s legally required.

But if you don’t feel confident doing your own checks, then let inspector Ellis Whittam do them for you! We can ensure your premises, activities and systems are fully compliant with Health & Safety law.

Our Health & Safety specialists can also:

  • Act as your ‘Competent Person’
  • Carry out risk assessments and safety audits
  • Write you a Health & Safety policy

Why Ellis Whittam?

Health & Safety law is huge, complex and constantly changes.

While there’s no shortage of Health & Safety consultants to help you develop your Health & Safety systems – ask yourself, what do they know about the law?

Registered occupational safety and health consultants must have a degree level qualification. But rival consultants are typically geography or environmental studies graduates with little or no legal background. In plain English, such qualifications might be labelled ‘Mickey Mouse’ or little more rigorous than advanced colouring-in!

Talk to the Professionals

In stark contrast, Ellis Whittam’s consultants have outstanding relevant qualifications and vast experience. Crucially, many advisers are professionally qualified lawyers with specific industry knowledge.

With a much more suitable skillset, Ellis Whittam’s consultants are best placed to keep your organisation on the right side of the law!

Contact us for more information.

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