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Health and Safety

Responsibility for the enforcement of health and safety in workplaces is split between the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authorities.


Bedford Borough Council usually enforces health and safety in the following types of premises with the Borough:

  • The sale of goods, or the storage of goods for retail or wholesale distribution
  • The display or demonstration of goods at an exhibition
  • Office activities
  • Catering services
  • The provision of residential accommodation, both permanent and temporary (including caravan site or campsite)
  • Coin operated launderettes
  • Therapeutic and beauty services
  • Cultural and recreational facilities
  • Hiring out of pleasure craft for use on inland waters
  • Animal care
  • Undertakers
  • Church worship or religious meetings
  • The provision of childcare, playgroup or nursery facilities
  • Consumer services


Any other type of premises will probably be enforced by the Health and Safety Executive.


Health and safety legislation only applies to premises where work is taking place. We are unable to enforce in domestic premises or in streets or other public places.


The Environmental Health team aims to ensure that employers protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees by providing safe working conditions and adequate training in order to minimise the risk of injury or ill health. Employers should also protect the health and safety of anybody else who visit the premises, such as contractors or customers. The team aims to achieve this through education and enforcement as necessary.


Visits and Inspections

Health and Safety Officers may visit a premises for many reasons, including:

  • Routine health and safety inspections
  • Part of an educational campaign
  • In response to an accident or complaint


Officers have the right to enter any workplace at any reasonable time without giving notice, but they will often give notice where they feel it is appropriate.


On a normal visit, an officer will expect to look at the workplace, the activities being carried out and the management of health and safety in order to check that the employer is complying with health and safety law. The officer may offer advice and guidance, and they may speak to employees, take photographs or samples and view documentation.


If an officer finds a breach of health and safety law, then they will take action to try and rectify the problem. The action taken will depend on the breach and will always be based on the principles set out in the Bedford Borough Council Enforcement Policy Statement. The possible actions include:


Informal action

Where the breach of law is relatively minor the officer will tell the person responsible what they need to do to comply with the law, and explain why. The officer will also write to confirm the information provided, and will distinguish legal requirements from best practice guidance.


Improvement Notice

Where the breach of the law is more serious the officer may issue an improvement notice requiring the person responsible to do something to comply with the law. The officer will discuss the improvement notice with the person responsible in order to try and resolve any points of difference and to determine a reasonable time scale prior to service if possible. The notice will what state needs to be done, why and by when. The time period to take action will be at least 21 days in order to allow the person the notice is served on time to appeal to an industrial tribunal if they so wish. If the notice is not complied with within the specified time period then the officer can take further legal action.


Prohibition Notice

Where there is, or will be, a risk of serious personal injury the officer may serve a prohibition notice which prohibits an activity immediately or after a specified time period until remedial action has been taken. The notice will explain why the action is necessary and how the notice can be appealed.



In some cases the officer may also consider it necessary to initiate a prosecution. This decision will always be informed by the principles of the Bedford Borough Council Enforcement Policy Statement. Under health and safety law the courts have considerable scope for punishing offenders in order to deter others. For example, a failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice, or a court remedy order carries a fine of up to £20,000 or six months imprisonment or both. Higher courts can impose unlimited fines or even imprisonment.


After any visit the officer should provide employees or their representatives with information about any action taken, or which is necessary for the purpose of keeping them informed about matters affecting their health safety and welfare.



Accidents at Work



Electrical Safety

Employee Welfare

New and Expectant mothers

Gas Safety

First Aid

Manual Handling

Risk Assessment

Safety Policy

Skin Piercing

Visual Display Units

Work equipment

Young People at Work

Don't Miss

Bedford Map

The Business section gives you advice and help on what you need to know about owning and running a business in the borough. Information includes business rates, health and safety, street trading licences and more.

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