This website uses non-intrusive cookies to improve your user experience. You can visit our cookie privacy page for more information.

Beta This is a new way of showing guidance - your feedback will help us improve it.

Securing compliance


4.1 Inspection and other regulatory activity to secure compliance with the law are at the core of HSE's work. HSE have responsibility for securing compliance in over 740 000 establishments and LAs enforce the HSW Act in around 1 194 000 establishments in generally lower risk sectors. We will continue to undertake programmes of preventive inspections, investigations of incidents and complaints and formal enforcement work. We will be taking forward specific campaigns in certain areas focused on improving compliance.

4.2 HSE secures compliance through a mix of inspections and other regulatory contacts, investigations and formal enforcement work. Table 4.1 shows the numbers planned. This mix of preventive inspection and reactive investigation is based on the principle that prevention of harm is the primary aim. HSE's approach to reactive work (investigations) is based on the following principles:

4.3 We regard it as critically important to maintain a substantial programme of preventive work. In particular, we will continue to carry out annual preventive inspections of all high risk premises or category A premises (there are 3000 such premises in HSE's Field Operations Directorate's (FOD) rating system).


To inspect every category A establishment with the aim of:

  • removing them from category A within 2 years by the implementation of improved control measures; or
  • where long term action is needed to achieve this compliance (for example, the installation of complex and expensive ventilation systems) taking formal enforcement action to secure this longer term goal within 2 years.

Table 4.1 Selected outputs

Total regulatory contacts:
Of which FOD contacts
185, 496
163, 654
193, 000
172, 000
200, 000
179, 000
206, 000
188, 000
213, 000
193, 000
Total Inspections:
Of which FOD inspections
88, 000
75, 381
93, 000
70, 000
81, 000
70, 000
86, 000
75, 000
90, 000
78, 000
Total of incidents and complaints
35, 551 34, 100 41, 000 41, 500 42, 000
Number of RIDDOR incidents
10, 844 11, 300 17, 000 17, 500 18, 000
% of reported incidents
6.8 6.7 10 10.5 10.6
Number of complaints investigated 24, 707 22, 800 24, 000 24, 000 24, 000
% of complaints investigated 80 76 83 87 92
Total enforcement notices issued (e) 10, 708 10, 000 10, 900 11, 200 11, 400
Total prosecutions (informations laid) (e) 1860 1900 2000 2000 2100

(e) estimated


  1. These figures include outputs from compliance activities associated with the priority programmes.
  2. Percentage numbers for incidents investigated assume current volumes of incidents received stays at the current level.
  3. The percentage of complaints investigated reflects the experience of the new complaints handling system which has enabled HSE to get a more accurate picture of the number of complaints likely to be received which fall within HSE's jurisdiction.
  4. Numbers of prosecutions and enforcement notices are not targets but assume that current trends in issuing of notices and taking of prosecutions continue.
  5. Regulatory contacts cover a variety of contacts with dutyholders, ranging from inspections (which themselves can range from in depth audits to short, sharp visits) to visits associated with investigations and enforcement action, seminars, workshops and other advisory activities, and visits to suppliers of equipment.
  6. The number of inspections has been affected by the need to transfer experienced inspectors to support the railways programme.
  7. The number of planned inspections has been calculated based on a number of assumptions, the effect of inspectors transferring to support the railways programme, the expected increase in time per inspection carried out on the priority programmes, and the likely level of investigations of incidents and complaints. The combined effect of these factors is difficult to quantify. However any variation in the numbers of inspections from the planned number will affect the numbers of medium risk premises inspected. High risk premises will all be inspected within the year.

4.4 The numbers of contacts and inspections include those made under the priority programmes. These include specific, directed contacts and inspections focussed on control of the relevant hazards in specific workplaces. Inspectors will also look at the management of these hazards during the course of their normal inspection activity. Where the hazards are present, inspectors will undertake a more in depth inspection. Inevitably, this means that the inspections will be longer and this has been reflected in the volumes of outputs set out in the table. We will be looking to learn from these inspections and will review future plans in the light of experience.

4.5 Much of HSE's work involves inspections and other initiatives to address significant risks within sectors. Some of this work, particularly the development of industry specific guidance and standards and initiatives to reduce incidents and ill health, is done in consultation and partnership with our stakeholders and intermediary organisations. This work will also contribute to achieving the RHS targets.

[back to top]

Enforcement policy

Consistency in enforcement

4.6 Inspectors enforce the law in accordance with HSC's published Enforcement Policy Statement and applying the Enforcement Management Model. The principles of this policy are:

The Enforcement Management Model is a framework to assist inspectors' decision making to ensure consistency in applying the enforcement policy.

4.7 In 2001/02 we will publish a revised HSC enforcement policy statement. We will also develop an approach to reviewing and evaluating the revised policy to ensure its continued effectiveness, and will develop an agreed approach with HELA as to how we should monitor it.

Penalties and prosecutions

4.8 We will support legislative efforts, for example through advice to Ministers on the feasibility of innovative penalties to ensure that the courts have the range of powers they need to reflect the seriousness of health and safety offences. We will approach those bodies concerned with training judges and magistrates, and with advising magistrates, to discuss how the messages of R v F Howe & Son (Engineers) Ltd can best be conveyed to the Courts (In this case, November 1998, the Court of Appeal said that the fines being imposed for health and safety offences were too low. The Court of Appeal also set out guidance on future sentencing in health and safety cases). We will also identify all the manuals used by judges, magistrates, and magistrates clerks and make sure their references to health and safety law, offences, penalties and sentencing are up to date and accurate.

Investigation of incidents

4.9 We investigate incidents to learn lessons and influence the law and guidance, to prevent them happening again, and to put gross breaches of legal duty before the courts. Generally we investigate:

4.10 We are developing proposals to introduce a specific duty on employers to investigate reportable incidents, dangerous occurrences and diseases. Subject to the outcome of formal consultation we will submit new regulations to Ministers, to come into force in late 2001/02.

4.11 We will also start work on the fundamental review of RIDDOR with a view to simplifying reporting procedures and to making the whole system more efficient and effective. We will carry out research and issue a discussion document in 2001/02, issue a consultative document in 2002/03, and submit revised regulations to Ministers, to come into force in late 2003/04. A contact centre for receiving incident reports is to be launched in April 2001. The contact centre will receive reports both for HSE enforced sectors and also the LA sector.

Action in industry sectors

4.12 The following tables set out examples of key actions in industry sectors and for cross sector hazards which will be taken forward in 2001/02. Some actions will be rolled forward into further years. New actions will be identified in future years and reported on in future plans. Activity to secure compliance with health and safety legislation will also play an important part in our eight priority programmes.

[back to top]

Local Authorities

4.13 The number of workers in the LA enforced sectors is increasing and the role of LAs will continue to grow in importance. They have a major role to play in reducing incidents and ill health and the key to achieving these is for LAs to work together better to improve compliance, encourage consistency and promote best practice.

The Synergy Programme

4.14 This is a programme of work agreed by HSE and the LAs to maximise their collective influence on the health and safety system through an improved partnership and new ways of working.

4.15 The programme will result in a policy framework for determining allocation arrangements between HSE and LAs and improved operational arrangements in the field; improved strategic arrangements between LAs, business and trade unions; improved targeting of LA enforcement effort with fewer interventions in lower risk premises and more in higher risk premises; and improved health and safety in premises currently not registered by HSE or LAs.

4.16 The programme comprises four main projects:

Review of local authorities' planning system, implementation of accident investigation criteria; and the Enforcement Management Model

4.17 HSE and LAs working through HELA will develop an effective regime of risk rating to prioritise inspection planning by LAs in a way consistent with inspections in HSE; and develop common criteria for the effective management of LAs accident investigation processes, and their enforcement decision-making processes. It is our longer term objective to implement the Enforcement Management Model in all LAs:

4.18 The programme will be evaluated and reviewed in the light of any changes to HSE's priority rating scheme and changes in enforcement allocation.

Review of HSC's Section 18 Guidance and implementation of HELA's protocol for inter-authority auditing

4.19 Under Section 18 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 the HSC can issue mandatory guidance to LAs that directs the way in which they enforce the Act and related legislation. A review of this guidance is essential to enable HSC to set and monitor performance indicators in the LA enforced sector. In particular, to formalise the HELA protocol for inter-authority auditing against an agreed indicator to measure the performance of LA enforcement and promotional activity.

4.20 HSE will work closely with DTLR and the Cabinet Office to develop an effective performance indicator for LA enforcement activity and promotional work. We will:

4.21 LAs will carry out at least one inter-authority audit every five years. The performance monitoring regime will provide improved data for HSC on performance by LAs and an opportunity to better target guidance and support.

Updated 2009-01-06