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New limits on inspections of businesses

A new statutory National Enforcement Code has come into effect to limit the number of health and safety inspections councils can implement on businesses.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) code will remove thousands of businesses from inspections, including most shops and offices. Checks will continue on poor performing businesses and at sites with higher risk activities.

Low risk businesses that believe they are being unreasonably targeted can complain to an independent panel, which will investigate and issue a public judgement. HSE will work with local authorities whose targeting of inspections fails to meet standards.

Employment minister Mark Hoban said: “We need health and safety that protects people where there are real risks but doesn't stifle businesses.

“There are too many examples of local councils imposing unnecessary burdens by inspecting low risk businesses. This new Code should put a stop to this by putting common sense back into the system.”

HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: “Real improvement in safety performance will come from targeting those who put their employees at greatest risk.

“Local inspectors have a very important role to play in ensuring the effective and proportionate management of risks by businesses, and the Code is designed to guide them to do this.

“It sets out how targeting should be achieved, providing certainty for both businesses and regulators. HSE will be working with local authorities to ensure the Code is successfully implemented.”

Mary Boughton, the chairwoman of the Federation of Small Businesses health and safety committee, said: “The FSB supports the principles behind the new local authority enforcement code for health and safety at work. We believe that it is important to ensure that all local authority health and safety inspections are consistently risk based and proportionate to ensure that low-risk, compliant businesses are able to concentrate on growth.”

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