Health and Safety Inspections

Who Gets Inspected?

We inspect offices, shops, warehouses, places used for leisure activities and other non-industrial premises. Larger industrial premises are inspected by the Health and Safety Executive. See the Enforcement Page for more information.

What Can Officers Do?

The Officers have the right to enter and inspect premises at all reasonable hours. Visits are generally made without any warning so that the Officers can get a true picture of how the business usually operates. An officer may visit alone or be accompanied by another officer.

When they visit they can:

  • take samples
  • take photographs
  • inspect and make copies of records
  • remove any items that they suspect to be unsafe or they may prohibit their use
  • prohibit the use of processes, equipment or even the whole premises

Although these powers are available, an officer will always initially work with businesses to achieve good standards of health and safety provided there is no immediate risk to public safety.

During The Inspection

The Inspecting Officer will introduce himself, produce identification and explain why the inspection is being made. This could be due to a complaint or it could be just a routine inspection.

The Officer will usually ask to speak with the business owner. If there is a health and safety representative, or union representative, the officer will want to speak to them also. During the visit, the Officers may

  • look at the condition and layout of all of the food rooms
  • check the temperature of foods
  • watch how food is prepared
  • ask questions of staff or the food business operator relating to food handling practices and procedures

The Officers will also want to check paperwork such as:

  • hazard analysis documents 
  • suppliers invoices
  • temperature records
  • cleaning schedules
  • refuse contracts
  • pest control records

After The Inspection

Once the Officer has completed the inspection, he will discuss the findings of the inspection with a suitably responsible person.

The Officer will make clear which issues are contraventions (these must be sorted out) and which are recommendations (these are suggestions for good hygiene practice).

He will agree time scales within which the work should be completed.

He will leave a summary report at the time of the inspection and a more comprehensive report will be sent later detailing all legal requirements and recommendations for good practice.

Sometimes it may be necessary to serve legal notices for significant contraventions or imminent risks to health. These might be left following the visit or they may be sent at a later date. Failure to comply with the notice may result in more formal action such as prosecution.

A follow up visit may be necessary to check that any matters requiring attention have been suitably resolved. The food business operator should always contact the inspecting Officer before the time elapses if he feels the work cannot be completed within the time period.

All documentation arising from the inspection will be kept in the premises file and will be available for inspection by the public.

How often should I expect a health and safety inspection of my premises?

The frequency of inspection is decided according to national guidance, and is dependent on the risks to employees and the public.

Premises are given a score rating, dependent on a number of factors, and a total score given to the business determines which category it falls into.

The categories are as follows:

  • A. To be inspected not less than once per year
  • B1. To be inspected not less than once per 18 months
  • B2. To be inspected not less than once per 2 years
  • B3, B4 and C. Intervention strategies other than inspections may be used e.g. self assessment questionnaires, special projects, etc.

The score rating for any premises may be changed in the light of accidents or complaints so you may get an inspection sooner than expected.

Sometimes inspections are carried out to investigate a complaint. Revisits may be necessary to check the completion of works and give advice.

Officers will ensure that safe and healthy working conditions are provided for all employees, the self-employed and members of the public visiting these premises. Inspections are carried out on a routine basis without prior notification and the high risk premises are visited more frequently.

During an inspection, Officers will need to be satisfied that any risks to peoples' health, safety and welfare, in connection with a work activity have been identified and controls are in place to minimise the risk. They will look at the level of training in health and safety that managers and employees have received to ensure that it is adequate. Checks will also be made on the structure of the premises and that plant or equipment used in that workplace is safe. Where work practices or conditions fail to meet legal standards, instructions will be given in a report, if however the risk of personal injury to employees or visitors is great, then officers will resort to formal action. This could involve either the service of notices and/or prosecution.

Contact us for further information or advice relating to health and safety inspections.