Private nursing and care homes

Over the coming months the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) will carry out a programme of inspections in care homes across Northern Ireland.
During the inspection programme, HSENI Inspectors will focus mainly on the issues listed below and will require improvements where failings have been identified.

The control of legionella

Under general health and safety law, dutyholders including employers or those in control of premises, must ensure the health and safety of their employees or others who may be affected by their undertaking. They must take suitable precautions to prevent or control the risk of exposure to legionella. They also need to either understand, or appoint somebody competent who knows how to identify and assess sources of risk, manage those risks, prevent or control any risks, keep records and carry out any other legal duties they may have.

There must be evidence of a properly implemented risk assessment and written scheme of control with all records up to date.

Thorough examination of lifting equipment and accessories

All lifting equipment and accessories (slings) must undergo thorough examination at least every six months as required under regulation 9 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999.

All lifting equipment must also undergo separate servicing and inspection as stipulated by manufacturer’s guidance and in keeping with regulations 5 and 6 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999.

It is recommended that an asset register is kept detailing slings that are currently in use.  It is important to ensure all hoists and slings are identifiable so that they can be easily related back to the thorough examination and service/maintenance records.

During routine inspections, Inspectors will ask to see thorough examination reports (rather than examination ‘certificates’).

Window safety

Where assessment identifies that individuals are at risk from falls from windows, then adequate arrangements should be in place. This should include assessing the risk that furniture, or other items, may enable them to climb over barriers, or access windows which might otherwise be inaccessible. Control measures must be suitable and sufficient.

The storage of clinical waste

Those dealing with potentially infectious substances (including waste) are required to assess the risk to the public and staff that may come into contact with it in line with health and safety at work legislation such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (NI) 2003, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 2000.

Waste should be stored in accordance with the guidance set out by the Department of Health in HTM07-01; Environment and Sustainability Health Technical Memorandum 07-01: Safe management of healthcare waste, or by any other equally effective means.


The following resources and research papers are available to download from the HSE website: