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Health and safety at work

Health and safety at work - what it means.

Published on: 25 January 2022

Last updated: 12 October 2022

Local Authorities are a key part of the health and safety system in Great Britain. They have a statutory duty under Section 18 (4) of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) to ‘make adequate provision’ for health and safety enforcement in their area, as set out in the ‘National LA Enforcement Code’ (the Code).

Enforcement of health and safety is split between the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and approximately 382 Local authorities.

The division of premises can be a complicated matter but for the most part health and safety in factories, hospitals, laboratories, educational establishments, local authority premises, most construction, works in the street and other specialist areas is the job of the HSE. Local authorities enforce health and safety in shops, pubs, clubs, theatres, hotels, care homes, beauty salons, spas and offices. 

Many premises will have a mixture of activities carried out within them, in which case the decision as to who enforces depends on the nature of the main activity. If you are unsure as to who would deal with you inquiry, contact us and you can discuss the issue with one of our officers.

Our responsibilities 

The Health and Safety department have a responsibility to support, encourage, advise and ensure businesses and duty holders effectively manage the occupational health and safety risks they create.

The department is made up of officers (EHOs) who deal with:

  • complaints and queries from members of the public and employees using and working in commercial premises in Westminster. -  this includes, hotels, restaurants, pubs, office blocks and theatres
  • serious accident and fatalities – officers will thoroughly investigate any serious workplace accident and fatalities which occur in premises for which we are the enforcing authority. Legally an employer must report accidents which have occurred on their premises to the correct enforcing authority
  • proactive Inspections - EHOs will carry out full health and safety inspections of high risk/Category A premises. This inspection will look at all aspects of the business paying particular attention to any high risk activities for example, falls from height, gas safety, asbestos exposure and management, slips and trips and electrical safety
  • asbestos notifications – officers will review asbestos removal plans and visit site where necessary
  • lift Reports – Officers will review the statutory lift reposts which the lift companies are legally required to submit to the local authority. Any serious defects identified will be investigated by the officer
  • legionella – Public Health England will notify the Health and Safety department of any cases of Legionella in our borough. A case will be opened for each notification and an investigation carried out

The health and safety department does not deal with:

  • fire safety - The London Fire Brigade enforce fire safety legislation
  • quality and standards of rooms  - Trading standards can deal with complaints about false advertisement of hotel bedrooms, room prices and standards
  • pest control

What are our powers?

Environmental Health officers appointed by an enforcing authority under section 19 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA)  have extensive powers to carry into effect any of the relevant statutory provisions.

Officers have the right to enter your premises (at a 'reasonable time', unless they think there is a situation which may be dangerous) as well as the right to talk to employees and safety representatives, and exercise powers to help them fulfil their role.

If they have reasonable cause to apprehend serious obstruction, they may take a police officer.

Officers may take measurements, photographs and require the production of, inspect and take copies of relevant documents.

What happens when an inspector calls?

If an Environmental Health officer visits your premises you should ask them to confirm their identity, they all carry identification so you can ask to see this.

The officer will explain the reason for their visit and may ask to go to a certain area of the premises to inspect something. You should cooperate and assist the officer during their visit.

If you have any questions or queries do not hesitate to ask the officer.