Health and safety visits

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2. Enforcing health and safety law

On finding a breach of health and safety law, the inspector has a number of options. The action taken will depend on the nature of the breach. In most cases this will be:

  • informal notice given, either orally or in writing, on the steps needed to put things right; or
  • an 'improvement notice' requiring you to put things right within a certain time. We would usually discuss the time limit with you


  • a 'prohibition notice' requiring you to stop doing something until things are put right. We only issue these if we consider there is a risk of serious injury

When notices are issued a copy is provided for employees. The law requires some notices to be put in a register, which is open to public scrutiny. We will follow up notices to check what you have done. Failure to comply is a very serious offence and is likely to lead to prosecution. 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' carries a fine of up to £20,000, 6 months imprisonment, or both. Higher courts may impose unlimited fines and in some cases imprisonment.