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The National Local Authority Enforcement Code

Retailers now subject to a risk based approach for health and safety inspections.

Retailers should be aware that the National Local Authority Enforcement Code came into force on 29 May 2013, which introduces a ‘risk based approach’ to health and safety interventions.

The Code concentrates on the following objectives:

  • clarifying the roles and responsibilities of business, regulators and professional bodies
  • outlining a risk based regulatory approach for Local Authorities to follow
  • detailing the need for training of regulators
  • explaining the arrangements for the collection and publication of Local authority data

Local Authorities are responsible for regulating over 1.5 million workplaces and it has been decided that individual inspections of low risk premises are an inefficient and ineffective use of public resources.

What does the Code means for retailers?

In line with other government policies to control the amount of regulation faced by businesses, the Code aims to reduce the burden on low risk businesses, provided they are managing risk effectively. Under the Code, tens of thousands of businesses, including most shops and retail outlets, will no longer be subject to regular health and safety inspections by Local Authorities.

Proactive inspections will be reserved for high risk activities and those where hazards are poorly controlled and direct contact is necessary to ensure that risks are managed effectively.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published a list of high risk sectors / activities including:

  • Large scale public events
  • Risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Working at height
  • Industrial disease
  • Legionella infection
  • Premises with vulnerable working conditions including lone or night working or cash handling in those settings, for example off licences

Local Authorities are required to take a proportionate and consistent approach to intervention and enforcement. Low risk businesses who feel that they are being targeted unreasonably, or have received unreasonable or disproportionate advice are able to complain to the Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel. The Panel will consider the matter however its role is only advisory. If businesses are not satisfied with the outcome, their complaint can be forwarded to the chief executive of the HSE or Local Authority, or other local government figures. 

To conclude

The changes have been criticised for removing the deterrent effect of unannounced inspections and encouraging a relaxation of safety standards. However retailers must ensure that they remain complaint with health and safety requirements in order to avoid being identified as failing to manage risks successfully and consequently being subject to regular and rigorous inspection.

For more information please contact Duncan Reed, on 0117 917 7528 / Visit

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