Are you responsible for a workplace asks Shrewsbury health & safety expert
24th February 2015
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Do you know what to expect when a Health & Safety inspector visits?

Many people dread the thought of a health and safety inspector visiting their workplace, however if you have been managing your health and safety risks, there is no need to be concerned.

A health and inspectors’ primary aim is to ensure your workplace meets the required standards to keep you, your employees and the general public safe. 

What will the visit entail?

Health and safety law is enforced by HSE inspectors or by inspectors from your local authority.  Inspectors have the right to enter any workplace without giving notice and bring the police with them if they expect an obstruction.  On a normal inspection visit 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.   

What action can the enforcing authority take?

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.  These enforcement measures will consist of one of the following:

  • Informal - Where the breach of the law is relatively minor, the inspector may tell the duty holder what to do to comply with the law, and explain why.  The inspector will, if asked, write to confirm any advice, and to distinguish legal requirements from recommendations.
  • Improvement notice - Where the breach of the law is more serious, the inspector may issue an improvement notice to tell the duty holder to do something to comply with the law.  The notice will say what needs to be done, why, and by when. The inspector can take further legal action if the notice is not complied with within the specified time period.
  • Prohibition notice - Where an activity involves, or will involve, a risk of serious personal injury, the inspector may serve a prohibition notice prohibiting the activity immediately or after a specified time period, and not allowing it to be resumed until remedial action has been taken.  The notice will explain why the action is necessary.
  • Prosecution - In some cases the inspector may consider that it is also necessary to initiate a prosecution.  Prosecutions can result in fines of up to £20, 000, or six months’ imprisonment, or both.  Unlimited fines and in some cases imprisonment may be imposed by higher courts.

Additional Costs

As of 2012, if an inspector identifies one or more material breaches of the law during a visit to your workplace, the duty holder will be required to pay a fee based on the  amount of time that the inspector has spent identifying the breach (currently set at £124 an hour per hour per inspector!)

If you are unsure if all of your risks are adequately managed and would like peace of mind, then get in touch for a chat.

About the Author

Sarah M

Member since: 30th October 2012

Hi, my name's Sarah Mellor and I own Salopian Health & Safety. I help make sure that my business clients in the Shropshire area are compliant with the latest Health & Safety laws. If you worry that your...

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