What to expect when a Health and Safety Inspector Calls
Our officers will examine your workplace and work activities, look at how health and safety is managed and talk to your staff and their representatives.They may also check that you have procedures in place to consult and inform your staff about health and safety issues.
Afterwards, they will discuss any concerns with you, explain what you should do to meet health and safety law and inform you about any action that needs to be taken. Copies of their findings may also be given out to representatives of your staff. It is usual for our inspectors to take enforcement action if they find serious health and safety risks.
What kind of action can inspectors take?
When we take enforcement action, we try to be fair and treat all businesses in a similar way. This means explaining why we have taken action and giving you the chance to have your say.
The action we can take varies depending on the level of risk involved. For example:
- Informal – if a breach is relatively minor, we may explain what you can do to comply with the law. We will put this in writing if asked to. We will also try to identify what is a legal requirement and what is best practice.
- Improvement notice – when a breach is more serious, we may issue you with an improvement notice and will, if possible, talk to you about the notice and what it means before it is served.
The notice explains what you need to do, why you need to do it and when you must do it by.
The time given for work to be carried out will always be more than 21 days, as you have a right of appeal to an industrial tribunal. An extension can also be given in reasonable circumstances.
However, we can prosecute you if the work listed on your notice isn’t finished by the date we have requested.
- Prohibition notice – when an activity involves, or may involve, a risk of serious personal injury, we may serve you with a prohibition notice to stop it taking place until you take action to prevent people being harmed.
This notice can take effect immediately or may, in certain circumstances, require that the activity stops within a number of days. If possible, we will discuss the notice with you.
It will explain why the recommended action is necessary and give details about how to appeal to an industrial tribunal.
- Prosecution – in some cases, it may be necessary to take a prosecution to court. Laws regarding health and safety at work allow for large fines and even imprisonment if they are not followed correctly.
For example, failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice, or a court order taken in a magistrates’ court, can result in a fine of up to £20,000, or six months’ imprisonment, or both.Cases taken to the crown court can lead to unlimited fines and a prison sentence.
How can I appeal a decision?
If you are given an improvement or prohibition notice, it will include details of how you can appeal to an industrial tribunal, as well as a copy of the appeal form.
You will also be informed that your improvement notice is suspended until the appeal hearing. Please note a prohibition notice usually continues until the date of the tribunal.
What happens if I have a complaint?
If you have a complaint about our inspection procedures please contact us:
Armagh City & District Council
The Palace Demesne
Tel: 028 3752 9626
Online: Citizen’s Say