Health and safety inspection

The law requires that the University has arrangements in place for monitoring health and safety. This includes routine inspections to check that health and safety standards are being followed, are effective at controlling health and safety risks, and are meeting legal requirements.

Inspections also provide an opportunity for managers to proactively demonstrate their commitment to achieving a safe and healthy workplace.

Record keeping

The outcome of health and safety inspections must be fully recorded on the appropriate Inspection Checklist and Action Plan, along with responsibilities and timescales for action.

Each checklist contains the following:

  • paperwork and management system inspection: this checklist will help you to check you have appropriate systems and records in place to meet the University’s and legal requirements.
  • physical inspection: this checklist can be used to inspect all areas. It will help you to confirm that your management systems are working. You may need to use several of these to inspect smaller areas
  • action plan: where you have identified issues from your inspection, transfer them to the action plan. Someone must be given responsibility for monitoring the plan, to ensure action is taken

You are welcome to adapt the checklists to meet your needs, but you must ensure the document has been completed fully. 

Creating and reviewing your inspection action plan

The action plan should be regularly reviewed throughout the year to make sure inspection findings are actioned in a timely manner. The head of department is responsible for ensuring this happens regularly and will need to report progress to their Faculty Manager and/or the Assistant Registrar in February and August.

High priority actions identified during the inspection need to be addressed as soon as possible. It is expected that they will be resolved within three months of the inspection. If this is not possible, action should be taken to manage the risk.

High priority actions are defined as:

  • If the identified action is an immediate high risk then mitigations must be put in place immediately or, the area must be taken out of commission or, if it is a process then the process must be suspended.
  • Substantial efforts are required to reduce the risk.
  • Considerable resources might have to be allocated to additional controls.
  • Considerable effort is required to maintain existing controls rigorously and keep under regular review until risk reduced.

Medium priority items should be addressed within six months and low priority within 9 months. The aim being when inspection comes around, all actions have been closed from the previous inspection and evidenced on the updated action plan.

Reporting the outcome of inspections

The action plans should be signed by the responsible manager (eg. head of department or section). A copy of the action plan should then be sent to the union representative and WHSW within one month of the inspection date. For academic departments, a copy should also be sent to the faculty manager.

Once WHSW receives the action plan, the department/section will be recorded as having complied with the inspection KPI.

Frequency of inspections

Inspections should be carried out at least annually. However the actual frequency of inspection should be determined by the risk profile of the department and the outcome of previous inspections. In some cases more frequent inspections may be necessary.

Where a department wants to carry out inspections at a frequency of less than every twelve months, the head of department should submit their justification, based on a risk assessment, to the Health and Safety Group for approval.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The carrying out of an annual inspection and completion of an inspection action plan within the academic year is a health and safety key performance indicator (KPI). Faculty/Professional Services performance is reported to Health and Safety Group, University Steering Group (USG) and Council as part of the Annual Report on Health and Safety Performance.

The completion of formal health and safety inspections by departments/sections are reported to executive deans/the Registrar annually and an interim progress report is also issued six monthly. It is therefore important that annual inspections are carried out and action plans submitted to WHSW before the end of July each academic year.

Responsibility for inspection

Heads of department are responsible for ensuring that regular formal health and safety inspections are carried out of the areas under their control.

The task can be delegated to other members of staff, however the outcome should be reported back to them. They should also sign the inspection action plan, although for larger departments it is sufficient for the responsible manager for each area to sign action plans for their area of responsibility.

Inspection team

A union appointed safety representative should be invited to join the inspection team. To arrange this heads of department (or the person delegated responsibility for arranging the inspection) should advise the lead Safety Representatives of the three trade unions (UCU, Unite and Unison) at least two weeks before the proposed inspection date, so that they can agree which representative will join the inspection team.

If it is your first inspection or you are responsible for high-risk areas, you should invite your lead health and safety adviser to the inspection. The adviser will also be able to give guidance on what to look for when carrying out inspections.

Inspection or audit?

An inspection is different to an audit. An inspection is generally limited to an examination of physical conditions so that an assessment can be made of basic legal compliance. A health and safety audit involves collecting information about the health and safety management system and making judgements about its adequacy and performance.

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