Council Environmental Health Officers carry out health and safety inspections in premises for which Council is the enforcing authority for health and safety at work law. Inspectors may visit your workplace with or without notice and will examine your workplace and work activities, look at how health and safety is managed and they may talk to your staff and their representatives. They may also check that you have procedures in place to consult and inform your staff about health and safety issues.
Further details on what Health & Safety Inspectors may discuss is contained in the Protect Your Profit Booklet. This booklet provides information to help you understand the steps you need to take to effectively manage Health & Safety.
Afterwards, The Inspecting Officer will discuss any concerns with you, explain what you should do to comply with Health and Safety law and inform you of any action you need to take. Copies of their findings may also be given out to representatives of your staff.
Normally inspectors will enforce Health & Safety standards by giving advice on how to comply with the law however our inspectors may need to take enforcement action if they find serious health and safety risks.
What kind of action can inspectors take?
When we take enforcement action, we try to be fair and to treat all businesses in a similar way. We will explain why the action is being taken and give business owners the opportunity to have their views heard if they have concerns.
Council’s Environmental Services Enforcement Policy sets out more detailed guidelines for enforcement action.
Inspectors can take the following types of enforcement action depending on the level of risk to people’s health and safety:-
When the breach of the law is more serious, the inspector may issue an improvement notice and will, where possible, talk to the business owner about the notice and what it means before it is served.
The notice will say what needs to be done, why, and by when. The time given for work to be carried out will always be more than 21 days as there is a right of appeal to an industrial tribunal (see ‘Appeals’ below).
An extension of the time can be given in reasonable circumstances. The inspector can take a prosecution if you haven’t finished the work listed on the notice by the date given.
Where an activity involves, or will involve, a risk of serious personal injury, the inspector may serve a Prohibition Notice to stop that activity until action is taken to prevent people being harmed. The Notice can take immediate effect or may, in certain circumstances require the activity to stop within a number of days. Where possible, this will be discuss with the business operator. The notice will explain why the action is necessary and details about how to appeal to an industrial tribunal (see ‘Appeals’ below) will be given.
In some cases the inspector may feel that it is necessary to take a prosecution. Again the council’s enforcement policy will give more details on how decisions to prosecute are taken.
Health and safety at work law allows for high levels of fines and even imprisonment. For example, failure to comply with an Improvement or Prohibition Notice or a Court Order, taken in a Magistrates’ Court, can result in a fine of up to £20,000, or six months imprisonment, or both. Cases taken to the Crown Court can lead to unlimited fines and in some cases imprisonment.
How can I appeal a decision?
If you are given an improvement or prohibition notice, it will include details of how you can appeal to an industrial tribunal, as well as a copy of the appeal form.
You will also be informed that your improvement notice is suspended until the appeal hearing. Please note a prohibition notice usually continues until the date of the tribunal.
What happens if I have a complaint?
If you have a complaint about our inspection procedures call us on 028 71253253 or write to us at:
Head Of Service
Health & Community Wellbeing Directorate
Derry City & Strabane District Council
98 Strand Road
For further information contact Health & Safety and Consumer Protection Team
T: 028 71253253