Pesticide enforcement officer visits
What will happen during the visit
The role of a pesticide enforcement officer (PEO) is to conduct official controls on operators throughout the plant protection product (PPP) supply chain in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). Operators include importers, manufacturers, formulators, those who package and label plant protection products, distributors/sellers and users of plant protection products authorised for professional use.
The aim of a visit is to check how well you’re complying with your duties under plant protection product law. These controls are not just on formulated products but extend to active substances and safeners, synergists, co-formulants and adjuvants. The official controls performed on site will depend on your role and obligations under law and may include confirmation of the registration submitted under the Official Controls (Plant Protection Products) Regulations 2020.
Your compliance with the Employer’s Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 (ELCI) will also be checked.
Although the purpose of the visit is not to check compliance with general health and safety law, if during a visit, the PEO identifies a potential serious breach of health and safety law, they may refer this issue to a local health and safety inspector. A PEO may give advice on relevant general health and safety matters identified during a visit.
In most cases they will make contact before the visit to obtain information and to arrange a convenient date. However, a PEO may visit any premises during normal working hours without telling the operator beforehand.
What the officer will need to see
During the visit a PEO may ask to see, if relevant:
- information relating to the active substance, co-formulants and/or formulated plant protection product
- records relating to the movement of PPPs through the supply chain, including PPPs destined for the GB market as well as those intended for export outside GB
- PPPs product packaging and labelling
- the storage facilities for PPPs
- examples of PPPs held
- certification held by distributors and/or users
- records required to be kept under plant protection product law
What the PEO might ask about
While the PEO is with you, they may ask:
- about what you do
- to see records about the formulation of one or more PPP
- what certification you have if you sell, use or store PPPs
- for details of how you store, handle and dispose of PPPs
- for details of what records are kept
- for details of how products are being used
- for information to check consistency of use with Good Plant Protection Practice/ Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
- to purchase samples for an independent check of the formulation
Who the officer will need to speak to
The PEO will need to speak to employees who are responsible for the company complying with its duties under the PPP law or have enough knowledge to be able to answer questions about the company’s approach to PPP duties.
What happens if the PEO finds something wrong
The PEO may take action if they find you are in breach of the plant protection product legislation during the visit.
They may also tell you to stop a dangerous activity in your workplace immediately if it relates to duties covered by plant protection product law. If the duties relate to general health and safety, the PEO may refer their concerns to a local health and safety inspector.
You will not be charged for the visit, even if they need to write to you or serve an enforcement notice for breaking plant protection product laws.
What happens after the visit
After the PEO has finished looking around your workplace, they might:
- offer advice (either verbal or in writing)
- write a letter to you
- issue an enforcement notice requiring you to make improvements
- issue an enforcement notice prohibiting an activity
We publish all enforcement notices on our website. PEOs, as with other Health and Safety Executive (HSE) staff, who take enforcement action will follow the principles and approach set out in HSE's Enforcement Policy Statement.
The PEO may give you advice, verbally or in writing, about some improvements you could make to comply with plant protection product law and general health and safety law.
A PEO will only write to you if they consider you have broken any plant protection product law seriously enough that they need to do so. The letter will explain how you have broken the law. The letter will also tell you what you need to do to stop breaking the law.
PPP – enforcement notice - improvement
An improvement notice will tell you:
- what’s wrong
- any changes you need to make to put things right
- how long you have to make those changes
We will give you a reasonable amount of time period to make any changes. You will be committing a criminal offence if you don’t make the changes in the time we give you.
PPP – enforcement notice - prohibition
You may get an enforcement notice that requires you to stop doing something if it’s not allowed by the regulations. An example would be to stop selling an unauthorised plant protection product.
You may also be served a prohibition notice under such circumstances where an activity is unsafe. In this circumstance the notice orders you to stop doing something until you have made it safe to continue. This may apply in circumstances where a user is using a hazardous plant protection product without appropriate controls.
If a serious enough breach of legislation has taken place or there has been a failure to comply with an improvement notice or a prohibition notice, HSE can prosecute you. If found guilty, the court can issue you with a fine.
Who to contact about a dispute
If you don’t agree with what we have decided when we write to you, you may be able to challenge our decision. Formal appeals against enforcement notices will need to be done through judicial review. We will always tell you how you can challenge one of our decisions.
Please contact your PEO or their manager before you start any formal dispute. They may be able to look at the decision again.