Ensuring compliance ahead of an HSE site inspection visit

For most of 2020, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has, understandably, been focused on coronavirus and ensuring businesses are Covid-secure.

However, it is important to be aware that more general inspections are still taking place, with HSE staff visiting sites to ensure compliance with safety processes and procedures.

The HSE has split British workplaces into 19 sectors, based on industry type and risk profile.  For each of these sectors, they have a plan covering its health and safety performance, identifying the top three strategic priorities for the next three to five years and the actions that they propose to take.

Inspectors are calling on sites within industries that include: manufacturing, chemicals and petrochemical facilities subject to Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (COMAH), utilities, pharmaceuticals onshore oil and gas, offshore energy and mines to carry out these detailed safety inspections – with consequences that can include enforcement action for companies found not to comply with the many regulations and legislation relevant to their operations.

The purpose of enforcement is to:

  • Ensure that duty holders take immediate action to address serious risks
  • Promote and achieve sustained compliance with the law
  • Make certain that those who breach the law are held accountable

Simply put; if the inspector finds problems, safety issues or non-compliance with regulations at these sites, they can issue improvement notices, prohibition notices and, in the worst cases, stop operations with immediate effect.

Should an improvement notice be issued, the company is given a set timeframe to put the problem right.

However, should the issue be of a more serious nature, inspectors may prohibit workers from using any equipment or parts of the plant that are unsafe.

As mentioned, HSE inspectors have the power to stop operations with immediate effect, and, in many cases, this is followed by heavy fines and even custodial sentences for the most serious offences and breaches in health and safety.

While firms are always given notice of such inspections, we believe in a proactive approach to ensure your site meets all legislation at all times – without the prospect of an HSE visit prompting a last-minute reaction.

What we do

The Covol team has over 45 years of industry experience in electrical, control and instrument systems (EC&I) and one important lesson we have learnt is that HSE inspectors, like those in any other industry, undertake regular training courses.

As such, inspection visits may often catch firms out on areas like earthing, functional safety or lesser understood regulations as the inspector may have a greater knowledge of more specific elements within the main inspection theme or purpose.

At Covol, we believe in a proactive approach, ensuring all your systems comply with regulations as a matter of course. We support clients before an HSE visit, to assess any potential gaps with their EC&I systems, plant design, records and procedures.

More often than not, we can make recommendations for improvement and deliver an action management plan, enabling you to meet your engineering compliance requirements.

However, we have also been in the industry long enough to know that, no matter how well-prepared, sometimes an inspection will unearth a gap or breach of some kind and, in that case, we are also able to help.

We frequently work with clients following an inspection visit, where they have been given anything from 30 to 90 days to put the problem right. We understand this may seem a daunting task, but, with our years of expertise, we work with the client to solve these issues within the required timeframe.

We are not sector-specific, and have worked with a portfolio of blue-chip clients who operate in high hazard, demanding and heavily regulated environments for many years. Our team are multi-disciplinary and inherently adaptable, with a breadth of knowledge and meticulous processes meaning Covol are at the forefront of the engineering industry as a total solutions provider.

To find out how we can make sure your systems are fully compliant, HSE inspection or not, contact us on 01642 613662 or email info@covol.co.uk.