Legal guidance for HSE and LA Inspectors

This Guide sets out the law and legal practice relevant to the criminal enforcement of health and safety duties. It has been specifically developed to meet the legal requirements of those involved in health and safety enforcement work. It reflects the current legal position and will be regularly updated, with new additions as required.

The Guide will have particular relevance to HSE, Local Authority and other agency enforcement officers including Inspectors, Environmental Health Officers, Workplace Contact Officers, Working Time Officers, Compliance Officers and Disclosure Officers.

The range of responsibilities and legal powers affecting health and safety enforcement is very wide. Criminal enforcement of health and safety breaches has considerable impact on the duty holder involved, as well the enforcing authority. It can also directly affect those who are protected by the legislation. It is therefore important that all who are involved in enforcement work understand and work within the legal framework that gives rise to their powers.

Applying this guidance at all stages of the enforcement process will help to ensure that any enforcement action is both effective and fair.

The Guide should be considered by everyone involved in health and safety enforcement work as a key legal reference for all stages of the enforcement process.

General Policies and Principles

The approach that HSE takes on enforcement matters is set out in the Enforcement Policy Statement, which contains the general principles that HSE expects health and safety enforcing authorities to follow.

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 Section 3; Enforcement describes the policy of the Health and Safety Executive and the approach of enforcing authorities to the enforcement of Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in relation to the health and safety of members of the public and persons other than direct employees.

HSE's guidance on working with victims and bereaved families sets out HSE's approach when liaising with victims of health and safety incidents.

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Updated 2024-02-09