Who is responsible for policing health and safety in shops?

Your local authority's health and safety inspectors are responsible for making sure your employer complies with health and safety laws. You can find out more about how they work here in our Safety Inspectors section and get their number from your local telephone directory.

You can find more information on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) local authority enforcement webpage.

Despite the risk of verbal and physical abuse shown, for example, by the results of the British Retail Consortium survey, the government has categorised retail premises as ‘low risk’ for the purposes of health and safety enforcement. One of the consequences of this is that they are no longer subject to proactive unannounced inspection by the local authority. In other words, they will no longer be visited by an enforcement officer, unless the regulator has reason to believe something is wrong – for example, because of a complaint or an accident.

Note that there is no change to the local authority's obligation to inspect in response to a complaint by a worker, safety rep or member of the public. The government’s new inspection strategy can be found in a report: Good Health and Safety: Good for Everyone (PDF, 88KB) produced in March 2011, and also in Joint guidance for reduced proactive inspections (PDF, 73KB), produced by the HSE and local authorities in May 2011.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.