Wealden District Council

Wealden Home  >  Business  >  Safe Food and Healthy Workplaces  >  Healthy Workplaces  >  An Introduction to Health and Safety at Work

An Introduction to Health and Safety at Work

There are lots of myths, especially in the media, that can make health and safety seem ridiculous. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have produced the Top Ten Health and Safety Myths (external link) which does make interesting reading. But when you look at the damage caused by poor health and safety in the workplace, it's no laughing matter:

  • In 2013/14 133 people died at work and 78,000 other injuries were reported
  • In 2012 2535 people died as a result of mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos
  • In 2011/12 1.1 million people were suffering from a work related illness
  • According the statistics produced by the HSE, work related illness and injury led to a loss of 27 million working days in 2011/12, costing business and the economy billions of pounds (£13.8 billion estimated in 2010/11). These costs include loss of production, damage to property and equipment, absenteeism, compensation, court costs and fines, NHS treatment and increased insurance costs.

    Injury, ill health and death can be reduced and prevented by adopting common sense measures that eliminate risks in the workplace, or reduce them to a manageable level.

    You should find all the help and information you need in our Healthy Workplaces section.

    Who Does What?

    Two main organisations are responsible for promoting and enforcing health and safety at work in the UK, the HSE and your local council. Both aim to protect employees, customers and the public by working with businesses to improve standards. Where this approach does not work then enforcement action is taken in proportion to the problems or offences found.

    Councils cover workplace safety and health in the retail, commercial and leisure sectors, including:

  • Shops
  • Warehouses
  • Catering
  • Hotels
  • Residential care
  • Leisure facilities
  • Offices
  • Garden centres
  • Builders merchants
  • Tyre and exhaust fitters
  • Places of worship
  • The beauty sector, including tattooing, body piercing and non-medical treatments
  • The HSE have produced a similar summary for their businesses, please visit Is the HSE the Correct Authority For You (external link)

    What We Do

    Officers in the Environmental Health Department deal with queries, visit businesses, and investigate incidents and complaints about workplace safety and health.

    Workplace visits are based on priorities set each year by the HSE. These involve activities that pose the greatest risk or have a poor record for accidents, injuries and fatalities. These priorities include, transport at work, falls from height, Legionnaires Disease, animal petting establishments. Local priorities, such as outdoor events where large numbers of people congregate, can also be part of this work.

    We have a variety of interventions available to help us work with businesses to protect employees, customers and visitors. Most involve contact and dialogue with employers to gather information and intelligence. Where activities are a national priority or serious problems exist, a full or partial inspection will be carried out.

    For more details about the priorities Wealden has identified for this year, please view our Environmental Health Service Plan (pdf) 

    Our actions and enforcement meet the requirements set out in the Regulators Compliance Code 2007 and the department's Enforcement Policy (pdf)

    What You Can Expect

    All our officers are fully qualified and competent, attending regular training each year. They will always try to help and resolve issues informally where possible. Formal action is reserved for cases involving significant or repeated breaches of the law or danger to others.

    The HSE have produced guidance on What You Can Expect When a Health and Safety Officer Calls (external link)

    You can also find details of Wealden's own service standards on our Environmental Health Service Standards page.

    Contact Rother and Wealden Environmental Health Service