The Health and Safety Executive, usually shortened to HSE in the “trade”, are the agency responsible for enforcing Health and Safety in the Workplace law in the UK. They also provide guidance on and promote awareness of these issues to the general public. Whilst it holds a key role in enforcing legislation, its mission is to also to help prevent people from being killed, injured or made ill whilst at work.
The Executive is directly responsible for legal compliance in higher risk locations e.g. oil rigs, mines, nuclear plants, factories, building sites and utilities as well as hospitals, schools and colleges and government locations.
In addition to the Executive, more than 400 local authorities are used to enforce Health and Safety law at a local level and are responsible for hotels, restaurants, pubs and clubs, shops, offices, nurseries and playgroups, sheltered accommodation, care homes, places of worship and privately owned museums. A number of other agencies deal with specific aspects of Health and Safety e.g. the Fire Service for fire related issues and Environmental Health for food hygiene and pollution.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 gives the Executive’s inspectors, including those working in local authorities, wide ranging powers. Whilst their focus aims to be preventative and provide assistance, an inspector may informally advise you of a minor breach and explain how you can comply with the law and why the action is necessary.