Should HSE investigate an incident or complaint?

In the areas covered by the guidance listed in Further information, HSE will generally not start to investigate injuries to non-employees, or complaints about risks to non-employees. However, it may be appropriate to do so where initial enquiries, or information from other sources, indicate that a breach of section 3 was the probable cause of, or a significant contributory factor to, the injury or risk complained of, and:

  • there was or is a high level of risk or
  • HSE needs to act/investigate in the interests of justice.

In deciding whether the criteria above are met, relevant HSE staff should consult the relevant HSE Sector team and consider all available and relevant material, including any initial information and material obtained by other relevant investigatory bodies and make a reasoned judgement, having regard to the considerations relating to effectiveness, capability, expertise etc that are set out in Section 3, HSW Act: Policy.

Where, in the event of a death and certain injuries, the decision is not to investigate, the reason for this conclusion should be recorded. It may also be appropriate to record decisions in the event of certain incidents involving injury; this should be done in accordance with operational instructions. Because of the Government's responsibilities under the Human Rights Act 1998 in relation to a death where agents of the state are, or may be involved, HSE like any other authorities involved, may need to exercise its functions in a way that fulfils the requirement of an independent public investigation.

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Updated 2022-03-31