Under a new code, Local Authorities should focus their proactive inspections on high risk activities in certain sectors or where specific intelligence is obtained about a health and safety risk. The intention is to limit unannounced inspections of a number of low risk businesses, which would include most shops and offices. Examples of high risk sectors which will continue to be the focus of Local Authorities are highlighted as cooling towers, where the life threatening bacteria legionella can develop, and buried liquefied petroleum gas which presents an explosion risk. The changes follow the report of Lord Young (Common Sense – Common Safety) which highlighted the need to improve the way health and safety is enforced.

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt stated:

“Real improvement in safety performance will come from targeting those who put their employees at greatest risk…Local inspectors have a very important role to play in ensuring the effective and proportionate management of risks by businesses, and the code is designed to guide them to do this.”

The Code has also been backed by the Federation of Small Businesses with its chairman of the health and safety committee, Mary Boughton, stating:

“The FSB supports the principles behind the new local authority enforcement code for health and safety at work. We believe that it is important to ensure that all local authority health and safety inspections are consistently risk based and proportionate to ensure that low-risk, compliant businesses are able to concentrate on growth.”

If a low risk business believes they are being unfairly targeted by a local authority, they can complain to an independent panel who will investigate the circumstances and then publish a public judgment. The HSE has confirmed that it will work with local authorities to ensure that the code is complied with.

For a copy of the code click here.