In this article, our expert Health and Safety Consultant, Colin Jones, covers enforcement notices and explains the consequences if an employer ignores one.
Sadly, we still hear cases of businesses who will maliciously try and cut corners and clearly see health and safety as a burden that just gets in the way, or simply individuals operating naively without sufficient safe working practices. This demonstrates why the HSE feel it necessary to issue Enforcement Notices. These notices may simply be verbal advice, or a more formal written notice which will highlight the breach and actions to be taken by the business owner. Notices issued can be appealed and the HSE will outline the procedure to do this.
A HSE inspector can issue an enforcement notice. These enforcement notices are a way to remedy breaches of health and safety quickly. It’s effective immediately. There are two types of enforcement notices that can be issued dependent on the situation and severity of the breach in health & safety. The notices will either be Improvement Notices or Prohibition Notices.
Health and safety inspectors issue improvement notices to help businesses rectify health and safety failings. An improvement notice gives you the chance to correct what you’re doing wrong and will specify what you’re doing that breaks the law. You would be given at least 21 days to make any changes.
You may still carry out work in the area but need to ensure that you implement the recommended changes.
A prohibition notice may be served on any person in control of a process or a piece of plant subject to the relevant statutory provisions. This includes an employee who may not be aware that the activity is unsafe and is acting in accordance with his/her employer’s instructions.
The prohibition notice normally requires you to stop that activity straight away. You must not resume the activity until you have taken action to remove or control the risk. The prohibition notice will explain why the inspector thinks there is a risk of serious personal injury.
Firstly it’s worth noting that all businesses who have been issued an enforcement notice will go on a public register. Ignoring an enforcement notice does carry further consequences.
In a recent news bulletin from the HSE, they named and shamed a property development company that did not carry out any rectification of the notice conditions served and as a consequence, the Director was prosecuted and made to pay a heavy fine and court costs. The impact on the business, further damages to their reputation, and opportunity to gain new business as consequence cannot be ignored. In this case the director failed to make all changes required and was found in breach of CDM Regulations.
Following the hearing the HSE stated….“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction, and training to their workers in the safe system of working. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”…
The HSE has the power to shut part, or all, of your business down if you are breaking health & safety law. Your business can be shut down through a prohibition notice issued by a health and safety officer during or after a health and safety inspection.
oneSafe is an effective Health and Safety software tool that is backed by a team of expert consultants. They understand the requirements of your business and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring full compliance.
Use the Task Management function on oneSafe to set yourself a reminder if you have received an enforcement notice to take action.
oneSafe provides an extensive library of Health & Safety documentation. This will help you to ensure that your business remains compliant with all aspects of Health & Safety.
If you would like to learn more about how oneSafe can help you to prevent and react to Enforcement Notices, please get in contact with our team today.