What to expect from a health and safety investigation

By Lancashire Business View

10 Sep 2018

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was set up to prevent work-related death, injury or ill-health and provide support to businesses on managing risk.

By Laura Walmsley, regulatory solicitor & associate partner at Farleys

It is also its job to investigate a company when an incident occurs or a complaint is received.

A HSE inspector will investigate in order to establish the facts of the case, identify how the incident occurred (or if one did) and what lessons can be learned to prevent a recurrence.

The inspector will also look to uncover any breaches of health and safety regulations and take enforcement action if needed.

If your business is subject to a health and safety investigation it is important to remember that an inspector can enter your business premises without notice and it is advisable not to try and persuade them to come back another day as this can look as if you are trying to hide something.

The inspector may also wish to speak with a number of your employees and take photos and samples.

If a breach is discovered

You will be issued with enforcement action. This will take the form of either: An informal action – for minor breaches, you will be told what to do to achieve compliance and why you need to do it. Improvement notices – for more serious breaches, you will be issued with a notice requiring you to implement the changes, usually within 21 days. Prohibition notices – for breaches endangering the safety of individuals, you will be told to cease certain activities immediately. Prosecution – there is the potential for prosecution where the inspector deems there to be a complete disregard for health and safety. If an HSE prosecution is successful, the court will decide on a penalty to impose. Penalties for offences have risen sharply over recent years with significant fines imposed on companies, while senior managers and directors also face prosecution.

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