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Guidance for other people to accompany enforcement officers on site

Health and Safety Executive/Local Authorities Enforcement Liaison Committee (HELA)

Local Authority Circular

  • Subject: Enforcement
  • Open Government Status: Fully Open
  • LAC Number: 22/2 (rev1)
  • Publication Date: 01/07/2010
  • Review Date: 01/07/2015

Introduction

The purpose of this circular is to provide general advice on dealing with the situation of authorising others to accompany an enforcement officer on a visit. It does not cover empowering others to carry out enforcement type duties.

Background

Under section 20(2)(c)(i) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, an inspector may take another person with them on an inspection e.g. a person with expert knowledge of the type of workplace being visited. Prior authorisation by the Enforcing Authority should be arranged for the person concerned, otherwise they will not have any right of entry to the premises. This could cause delays during emergency situations.

Authority to Accompany

The power to authorise other people to accompany enforcement officers is a function given to the Enforcing Authority and the Authority may discharge that function through officers or others in accordance with its normal powers, including those given by Part VI of the Local Government Act 1972. The way any Enforcing Authority chooses to discharge the particular function, including the reasonableness of any decision, would be subject to control by the Court in the same way and to the same extent as other decisions of the Authority.

An example of a suitable form to issue to people accompanying inspectors on visits is given in the attached Appendix. If the sample form is used it should be cleared by the legal advisers to the Enforcing Authority.

Appropriate Duties for the Accompanying Person

The person accompanying the enforcement officer has authority but not to undertake any duties of inspection, although this would permit limited assistance (e.g. when not controlling the inspection activity). There may be occasions when an inspector may wish to have present, persons with special knowledge who may be expected to examine and/or otherwise investigate aspects of an incident or workplace. Examples could be an electrical engineer or a building surveyor. If the work they are likely to perform requires them to use powers described within section 20 of the HSWA, then they should be empowered under section 19 to carry out these tasks, rather than rely on the authorisation to accompany an enforcement officer. The power could be restricted to parts of section 20 as appropriate.

HSE Specialist Inspectors

There will also be occasions when the Authority will require help of HSE specialist inspectors e.g. engineering and safety specialists or health professionals. In such cases the Authority should consider empowering the HSE inspector with limited powers specific to the task and limited in scope and time.

There are many situations where visits are made by an open invitation and where legal action is not likely to result. It is not the intention of this circular to create unnecessary systems to administrate visits under these categories. However, where legal action is probable, difficulties could arise if courts are persuaded that evidence was collected by persons not properly authorised.

This circular provides general guidance on this issue and Authorities may wish to seek their own legal advice before making a decision.

Appendix 1

Example of a suitable form to issue to people accompanying Enforcement Officers on visits

A N OTHER BOROUGH COUNCIL
HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK ETC ACT 1974
AUTHORISATION TO ENTER PREMISES WITH AN INSPECTOR UNDER S20(2)(c)(i)
I .............................................being authorised to act on behalf of Council hereby authorise:
..............................................................................................................
to enter any premises accompanied by an inspector duly appointed by the Council under S19 of the above Act when that Inspector is exercising power of entry under S20(2)(a) of the above Act.
*This authorisation is valid until ......................................................................................
*This authorisation is valid until withdrawn.
Signed .................................................................... Health and Safety Inspector
Date......................................................................
*Delete as necessary
Obtaining and disclosure of information
My attention has been drawn to the restrictions on disclosure of information which may be obtained by me in the course of any authorised visits, which are contained in S28(7) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
Date..................................... Signature .......................................................

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Updated 2012-07-19