HSE warns of unannounced food manufacturer inspections

25 January 2018

Food manufacturer inspections

The Health & Safety Executive has confirmed it has started to carry out a series of unannounced inspections of food manufacturing sites, in line with its recently published Sector Plan. The plan seeks to target the two main causes of occupational ill-health within the industry – work-related asthma and lung disease (for example, from exposure to flour dust) and musculoskeletal disorders (predominantly back pain and work-related upper limb disorders due to repetitive tasks and manual handling). 

The food sector is part of the HSE’s focus for the next 12 months, but it is likely to last for as long as the HSE sees the need for the issues to be addressed.


Sector statistics

According to the HSE’s statistics published in November 2017, the food sector accounted for 18% of all self-reported work-related illness and 16% of all workplace injuries across the whole manufacturing industry – the highest and second-highest sub-sector proportions within the industry respectively.

As a result, the HSE has said the health and safety record for the food manufacturing sector needs to improve, and it will be calling on companies to demonstrate that they have robust policies and procedures in place to deal with these targeted risk areas. Organisations should also be able to show that they have plans in place to monitor and reduce incident rates accordingly. 


Estimated annual cases of all self-reported work-related illness, by sub-sector

SOURCE: LFS annual average 2011-2017, H&S in the Manufacturing Sector in Great Britain, 2017


Estimated annual cases of all self-reported workplace injury, by sub-sector







SOURCE: LFS annual average 2011-2017, H&S in the Manufacturing Sector in Great Britain, 2017


Fees for Intervention

With the introduction of the Fees for Intervention scheme in 2012, HSE Inspectors now have a duty to recover the costs of carrying out their functions, from those found to be in material breach of health and safety law. This means that if, during an inspection (whether announced or not) an Inspector deems your organisation to be non-compliant with any aspect of health and safety legislation, a notice can be served identifying any such contraventions. Given the HSE’s hourly rate, it could prove costly for manufacturers as they will be charged for the HSE’s time in working with the organisation to put things right.  If the Inspector deems the non-conformance sufficiently serious there is also the risk of enforcement action, ranging from enforcement notices to prosecutions.


Next steps

We would advise all food manufacturers to take this opportunity to carry out a review of their policies and procedures and iron out any potential concerns or issues now. Primary focus should be on the above areas but consideration should also be given to areas where organisations believe the HSE may delve deeper during an inspection.


For more information or to discuss any queries please contact David Young or Catherine Henney.

David Young, Partner
e: davidyoung@eversheds-sutherland.com
t: +44 20 7849 5259
Catherine Henney, Principal Associate
e: catherinehenney@eversheds-sutherland.com
t: +44 161 831 8583