Health and Safety Inspections & Visits

When an Environmental Health inspector, or inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive, visits a business they will always provide identification when they arrive. They will inform you of any hazards they have identified and advise you about how they can be managed.

Inspectors have the right to enter any workplace without giving notice, though notice may be given where the inspector thinks it is appropriate. Inspectors may undertake a "general" or a "targeted" inspection. On a general inspection an inspector would expect to look at the workplace, the work activities, your management of health and safety, and to check that you are complying with health and safety law. On a targeted inspection the inspector may focus on one or two particular aspects in detail, for example, arrangements regarding work place transport or manual handling.

The inspector may offer guidance or advice to help you. He/she may also talk to employees and their representatives, take photographs and samples, serve Improvement Notices or Prohibition Notices and take action if there is a risk to health and safety that needs to be dealt with immediately.

If an Environmental Health officer advises you to do something, they will tell you whether you need to do it to comply with the law, or whether it would simply be good practice. If you are asked to take any action as a result of the inspection, you will be given the reasons in writing. If the Environmental Health officer decides that you are breaking the law, they will tell you what that law is. The Environmental Health officer will give you a reasonable amount of time to make changes, except where there is an immediate risk to public health. Details of how you may wish to appeal against their actions will be shown in the letter which will be sent to you following the inspection.

Enforcing Health And Safety Law

On finding a breach of health and safety law, the inspector will decide what action to take. The action will depend on the nature of the breach, and will be based on the principles set out in the Health and Safety Commission's Enforcement Policy and Milton Keynes Council's Environmental Health Division Enforcement Policy. The inspector will 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.

Where an Environmental Health officer thinks it is necessary, they can take enforcement action to protect the public. For example, they can:

  • Take samples and photographs of food and inspect your records.
  • Write to you informally, asking you to put right any problems.
  • Serve you with a Hygiene Improvement Notice if you are breaking the law, which sets out certain things that you must do to comply with the law.
  • Detain or seize suspect foods.
  • Serve a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice which forbids the use of certain processes, premises or equipment.
  • Undertake a prosecution, in serious cases.

Inspectors may take enforcement action in several ways to deal with a breach of the law. In most cases these are:


Where the breach of the law is relatively minor, the inspector may tell the dutyholder, for example the employer or contractor, what to do to comply with the law and explain why. The inspector will confirm any advice in writing and will distinguish legal requirements from best practice advice.

Improvement Notice

Where the breach of the law is more serious, the inspector may issue an Improvement Notice to tell the dutyholder to do something to comply with the law. The inspector will discuss the Improvement Notice and if possible, resolve points of difference before serving it. The Notice will say what needs to be done, why and by when. The time period within which to take the remedial action will be at least 21 days to allow the dutyholder time to appeal to an Industrial Tribunal if they so wish (see 'Appeals'). The inspector can take legal action if the notice is not complied with within the specified time period.


In some cases the inspector may consider that it is also necessary to initiate a prosecution. Decisions on whether to prosecute are informed by the principles in the Health and Safety Commissions's Enforcement Policy Statement and the Enforcement Policy of Milton Keynes Council, Environmental Health Division. Health and safety law gives the courts considerable scope for punishing offenders and deterring 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. Unlimited fines and in some cases imprisonment may be imposed by higher courts.


Milton Keynes Council has a formal procedure to deal with complaints about its service. If you do not agree with action taken by an Environmental Health officer, you should contact the Inspections Team Leader to discuss the matter, by following the contact information at the top left hand side of this page. If you are still in disagreement, you can discuss the matter with the Head of the Regulatory Unit.

If you have received a Hygiene Improvement Notice, you can appeal to the magistrates’ court. Similarly, you could appeal where an Environmental Health officer decides not to lift an Emergency Prohibition Notice/Order. When there is a ban on an individual, this can only be lifted by the court.

When an Environmental Health officer imposes an Emergency Prohibition Notice on premises, a process, or a piece of equipment, they will apply to the court to get the Notice confirmed to an Order.

Food that has been seized by an officer can only be condemned as unfit for human consumption on the authority of a Justice of the Peace. You will be informed when the court hearing will take place so you can attend if you wish. If the court decides that premises have been shut without proper reason, or food has been wrongly seized or detained you have a right to compensation.


If you have a complaint following an inspection you can contact the Food and Safety Team Leader who can be contacted using the contact information provided at the top of this page. On receipt of your complaint an internal investigation will take place and you will be informed of the outcome of this investigation.

If you are still not satisfied you can make a formal complaint through Milton Keynes Council formal complaints procedure. You can also contact the Health and Safety Executive's Local Authority Unit which will see that your complaint is followed up promptly and fairly with Milton Keynes Council. If they are unable to resolve the problem they will report the matter to the Health and Safety Commission. In cases of maladministration you can also make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman in England.






Last Updated: 27 August 2020