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HSC THREATENS TO INTERVENE AFTER REPORT FINDS ENFORCEMENT FAILINGS

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Councils with inadequate records on health and safety enforcement, mainly in service industries, face intervention ...
Councils with inadequate records on health and safety enforcement, mainly in service industries, face intervention by the Health & Safety Commission.

The commission's annual report on its audits of council performance speculated that it might be 'necessary to consider taking proportionate action against one or two continually failing local authorities in the near future'.

Lewisham LBC is in the firing line after receiving a zero rating, on a 0-4 scale, from the Health & Safety Executive's local authority unit.

The report noted that results so far indicate 'poorly performing authorities improve following the audit', and that 'the use of [our] default powers is generally seen by local government as a significant deterrent and a way of ensuring local authorities adequately resource, and consequently effectively discharge, the function'.

Declining resources have led to a one-third fall in the number of officers working on health and safety over six years, it noted. So far, 23 councils have been inspected since the programme began in 2001.

The audits have focused on councils identified as possible poor performers because they have 'carried out very little, or no, preventative activity', and the work they have done has not been risk based.

Councils are audited either by the HSE or by peer inspections. Around half have been given a '2' rating, but none has yet achieved the maximum '4'.

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