Health and Safety Interventions

Officers can take any of the following enforcement action: 


For minor breaches, the officer will tell the duty holder what is wrong and how to comply. This will be confirmed in writing.


Improvement notice

For more serious breaches, the officer may issue an improvement notice to formally require the duty holder to take action. The officer will discuss the improvement notice and, if possible, resolve points of difference before serving it. The notice will say what needs to be done, why, and by when. The officer will normally discuss the time period needed for the remedial action and this will be at least 21 days, to allow the duty holder time to appeal to an Industrial Tribunal if they so wish (see ‘Appeals’ below). The officer can take further legal action if the notice is not complied with within the specified time period.


Prohibition notice

Where an activity involves, or will involve, a risk of serious personal injury, the officer may serve a prohibition notice prohibiting the activity immediately or after a specified time period, and not allowing it to be resumed until remedial action has been taken. The notice will explain why the action is necessary. The duty holder will be given details in writing about their right of appeal to an Employment Tribunal (see ‘Appeals’ below).



In some cases the officer may consider that it is also necessary to initiate a prosecution. Decisions on whether to prosecute are informed by the principles in the Council’s Enforcement Policy. Health and safety law gives the courts considerable scope for punishing offenders and deterring others. For example, a failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice, or a court remedy order, carries a fine of up to £20 000, or six months’ imprisonment, or both. Unlimited fines and in some cases imprisonment may be imposed by higher courts.


Simple caution

As an alternative to prosecution action, in some cases, a simple caution (as) may be offered to duty holders, provided:

1)  There are sufficient grounds to institute legal proceedings;

2)  The Case meets the Council’s criteria for simple cautions;

3)  The duty holder admits the alleged offences; and

4)  The duty holder agrees to a simple caution and that it will be kept on file and will be cited should they subsequently be found guilty of an offence by a Court of Law.



A duty holder will be told in writing about the right of appeal to an Employment Tribunal when an improvement or prohibition notice is served. The appeal mechanism is also explained on the reverse of the notice. The duty holder will be:

·  Told how to appeal; 

·  Given an Appeal Form;

·  Given details on where to appeal;

·  Told what period an appeal may be brought; and

·  Advised that the remedial action required by an improvement notice is suspended while an appeal is pending.


Information to employees or their representatives

During a normal inspection visit an officer will expect to check that duty holders (eg employers or managers) have arrangements in place for consulting and informing employees or their representatives, eg safety representatives, about health and safety matters. Such arrangements are required by law.


An officer may meet or speak to employees or their representatives during a visit, wherever possible, unless this is clearly inappropriate because of the purpose of the visit. When they meet, employees or their representatives should always be given the opportunity to speak privately to the officer, if they so wish.


The officer will provide employees or their representatives with certain information where necessary for the purpose of keeping them informed about matters affecting their health, safety and welfare.

This information relates to the workplace or activity taking place there, and action which the officer has taken or proposes to take. The type of information that an officer will provide includes:

  • matters which an officer considers to be of serious concern;
  • details of any enforcement action taken by the officer; and
  • an intention to prosecute the business (but not before the duty holder is informed).


Depending on the circumstances, the officer may provide this information orally or in writing.


More information

More information, including what businesses must do by law, can be found in the HSE website