HSE 2017 – Priorities for Inspectors (from the Health and Safety Legislation Review April 2017)

3rd May 2017

The HSE and Local Authority Inspectors are now focusing on four priorities areas for inspection for 2017.  These are:

  • Falls from height – work on/adjacent to fragile roofs/materials
  • Health risks – associated to respirable silica dust exposure
  • Duty to manage asbestos
  • Construction

In practice, this means that a health and safety inspector could visit any business where its work activities fit within any of the above four topic areas.  Their visit could focus solely on one of the areas above, or it could be a more general routine inspection.  However, in reality inspections will take place even if an organisation’s primary business activities do not fall into the above categories.

What will inspectors be looking for?

  • Falls from height – fragile roofs and skylights etc. are common in workplaces, so businesses must ensure that all repair work and maintenance is performed safely.
  • Health risks – respirable silica dust – dust which contains elements that are harmful when inhaled such as respirable crystalline silica (RCS), is a by-product of many day-to-day operations such as cutting concrete flooring etc. Inspectors will check that controls are adequate to minimise the effects of the dust.
  • Duty to manage asbestos – Inspectors will be checking to see if the risk of asbestos in a building has been assessed, whether an asbestos survey has been conducted and a management plan with allowances for the required monitoring have been put in place. Additionally, inspectors will be looking at whether any minor construction work is being carried out that breaches the fabric of the building, where a proper asbestos survey has not previously been carried out and without the effective controls being in place.
  • Construction – the main areas that will be focused on in this sector are exposure to harmful substances such as asbestos, silica dust, paint and diesel exhaust fumes as well as risks associated with manual handling, noise and vibration.

Inspections are intended to assess how well businesses are managing their health and safety risks, and to bring about improvements where necessary which are proportionate to the level of risk involved.  Inspectors can bring about improvements by various methods, beginning with verbal or written advice through to Improvement Notices, Prohibition Notices and/or prosecution.  With the new sentencing guidelines now in place, it is crucial for business to be on top of their health and safety management.

Preparation for visits:

Although not all of the HSE priorities will be relevant to commercial property, there are key considerations that can be put in place in order to prepare for any potential HSE inspections:

  • Fragile surfaces:
    • Risk assess the area where there are fragile surfaces to ensure that appropriate control measures are in place. This might be included in the health and safety risk assessment for the property;
    • Ensure that any recommendations or control measures are in place where fragile surfaces are present;
    • Communicated these control measures to contractors and others who could have access to the areas.
  • Duty to manage asbestos:
    • Have an asbestos management plan drawn up by a competent surveyor, identifying any asbestos containing materials and measures that must be implemented in order to control the risk associated with them;
    • Carry out any management actions to control the risk of asbestos in properties;
    • Communicate the management plan to relevant stakeholders, ensuring they are aware of the scope of any surveys carried out, particularly if they are having to carry out any construction or demolition work.

To find out how the S2 Partnership and the RiskWise Asbestos Register can provide easy and simple solutions to managing asbestos risks, please contact us.