During a normal inspection visit, an inspector will expect to check that those in charge, eg employers, have arrangements in place for consulting and informing employees or their representatives, eg safety representatives, about health and safety matters. Such arrangements are required by law.
An inspector will meet or speak to employees or their representatives during a visit, wherever possible, unless this is clearly inappropriate because of the purpose of the visit. When they meet, employees or their representatives should always be given the opportunity to speak privately to the inspector, if they so wish.
The inspector will provide employees or their representatives with certain information where necessary, to keep them informed about matters affecting their health, safety and welfare. This information relates to the workplace or activity taking place there, and action which the inspector has taken or proposes to take. The type of information that an inspector will provide includes:
matters which an inspector considers to be of serious concern:
details of any enforcement action taken by the inspector; and
an intention to prosecute the business (but not before the dutyholder is informed).
The health and safety inspector may visit any workplace without giving notice. For a routine inspection, he or she will usually phone ahead to ensure the relevant staff are available.
When you know an inspector is going to visit it is helpful to prepare. You can then show the inspector what you are doing to meet your legal duties. You may also want to ask the inspector’s advice on any specific hazards or how you are managing health and safety.
The main function of the inspector is to secure compliance with the law and help you meet your legal duties. They will only take action against you as a last resort, and will be happy to answer any technical questions, or will direct you to other information sources.
The inspector will be trying to judge whether you are aware of the main risks of injury and ill health in your workplace and if you are taking action to control them. They will usually want to check:
your management of health and safety
whether or not you are complying with health and safety law
Ensure that you have the following to hand:
Your safety policy
Any risk assessments
Records of any inspections of work equipment which are required by law, such as lifting equipment, pressurised systems or local exhaust ventilation to control exposure to substances used at work
Any written safe working methods
Any records of safety training carried out