HSE Improvement Notices and Prosecutions

Clifford McDowell

As the Health and Safety regulator for England, Wales and Scotland the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issues Improvement Notices and enforces health and safety legislation for most industry sectors in Great Britain. This covers places where there is work activity such as:

  • Factories
  • Building sites
  • Mines and Quarries
  • Farms
  • Fairgrounds
  • Chemical plant
  • Offshore and nuclear installations
  • Schools and hospitals

HSE’s emphasis is on prevention but, where appropriate, they will enforce the law where they find it is being deliberately flouted.

They take enforcement action to ensure duty holders:

  • deal immediately with serious risks (so they prevent harm)
  • comply with the law
  • are held to account if they fail in their responsibilities

In most cases, the HSE will try to resolve an issue with a HSE Improvement Notice along with a date for when they expect corrective measures to be taken by. Should the offender fail to take the appropriate measures it may result in a prosecution.

The HSE prosecutes companies and individuals for breaches of health and safety law. When they prosecute someone, they prepare a ‘Case’ against them. The case may involve one or more instances when the defendant has failed to comply with health and safety law – each one of these is referred to as a ‘Breach’

All information relating to HSE Improvement Notices and the Breaches within cases are made publicly available and can be access in Doorda Biz.

Any cases subject to appeal are not made publicly available. To account for the appeals process and quality assurance, the HSE allows 9 weeks to elapse following conviction before a case is added to the public register. If the HSE is notified of an appeal outside the 9-week period, the case will be removed from the public register until it is resolved.

Please note that Northern Ireland is regulated by the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland


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