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 can consist of the following:
- Notification of contravention – A notification of contravention (NoC) is a document or letter that tells you about health and safety laws you’ve broken. It also explains how you’v broken them. A NoC will tell you what you need to do to stop breaking the law. The inspector will only give you a NoC if they think you are in ‘material breach’ of the law. This means the inspector thinks you have broken the law seriously enough for them to write to you about it.
- Improvement notice – Where the breach of the law is more serious, the inspector may issue an improvement notice to tell you 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. They can prosecute you for breaking health and safety laws or for failing to comply with an improvement notice or a prohibition notice. The courts can fine you or in some cases send you to prison.
If an inspector identifies one or more material breaches of the law during a visit to your workplace, you will be required to pay a fee based on the amount of time that the inspector has spent identifying the breach (currently set at £154 per hour per inspector!)
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This has proved invaluable in growing our reputation as a health and safety provider.
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Sarah Mellor, Evolution International Ltd