The Department of Work and Pensions press release on 29th May 2013 stated that local authorities are being ‘banned’ from unnecessary health and safety inspections under a new code which came into effect on 29th May 2013.
A read through of the code informs us that there is no ‘banning’ that local authorities still have the power to inspect business premises but directions are provided to local authorities on how their enforcement action should only be utilised for premises with high risks or where intelligence suggests that risks are not been effectively managed. A list of high risk premises has also been published.
In addition to this change all local authority will now have to publish a risk based service plan showing how they intend to apply the new code with the intention of using their enforcement powers proportionately and transparently.
Codes of practice issued in this way have legal meaning and failure to comply with an approved code of practice is capable of being challenged. The code therefore may provide additional legal challenges for companies outside the prescribed list for whom no provable intelligence has been received on health and safety breaches. It remains to be seen how each local authority applies the new code.
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By Professional Defence Lawyer Craig McAdam.