The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 gives authority to a visiting Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector to take a number of actions when when he or she is of the opinion that health and safety law has been breached. He or she may simply offer advice for improvements. In extreme cases, a prosecution may ensue.
More commonly, the inspector may issue:
Notification of contravention: A document which tells you how health and safety laws have been broken, and action that must be taken to stop breaking the law.
Improvement notice: allows work to continue, but prescribed improvements must be made within a defined timeframe (at least 21 days).
Prohibition notice: orders the unsafe activity to stop until it is safe to continue.
Non-compliance with an improvement notice or prohibition notice is a further criminal offence and risks prosecution.
For more information, you can find the HSE information leaflet "what to expect when a health and safety inspector calls" here or give Safety Concepts a call.
A roofing contractor has been given a suspended 12-month prison sentence for failing to protect his workers from falling from height. Workers had been seen working without edge protection on the roof of a two-storey domestic property. A prohibition notice was issued preventing further work, but the contractor carried on working, in contravention of the notice.
Allowing his workers to be exposed to a continuing risk of falling from the roof, with the potential for major injury of death, resulted in the contractor being prosecuted under the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 because of his failure to comply with the prohibition notice.
He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, plus 200 hours unpaid work and a contribution of £4,000 towards costs.
A kitchen worktop manufacturing company was subject to an HSE inspection which resulted in the issue of five improvement notices, all relating to occupational hygiene. Action to be taken included LEV examination, dust monitoring and noise and vibration assessments.
No evidence of compliance was ever received by the HSE. Despite the attendance of a company representative to an interview under caution, no reasonable explanation was given from the company for the non-compliance.
The Sheffied-based company has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 in costs.
A Stockport-based construction company which failed to ensure the provision of adequate on-site welfare facilities for its workers has been prosecuted for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 13(4) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015. The HSE had previously issued the company with a number of improvement notices. The company had complied with some of them, relating to fire safety and respiratory risks, but had failed to address its welfare facilities before the deadline and was fined £8,000 with costs of nearly £2,000.
The failure to comply with an HSE-issued improvement notice is in itself a criminal offence and is likely to result in prosecution.
If you are unsure of your duties to provide welfare facilities under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, give Safety Concepts a call. Remember that the regulations apply not only to construction companies but to any company carrying out any activity defined as construction under the regulations. A summary of the regulations can be found here.
Renovation work was carried out in an Essex restaurant without a refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey having first been undertaken, as required by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Asbestos insulation boards was removed and broken up, resulting in workers being exposed to asbestos fibres. A survey was carried out after the asbestos had been disturbed. Furthermore, the work had not been carried out by a licenced asbestos contractor.
The restaurant owner pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £3,000 with costs of £6,000.
An employee of a Birmingham manufacturing company was struck by a forklift trike while walking in the designated pedestrian zone of the company's site. She suffered severe injuries and died two weeks later from her injuries.
An investigation by the HSE found that the measures taken to segregate vehicles and pedestrians were inadequate, the designated pedestrian zone being unprotected and in the centre of the vehicle roadway. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs in excess of £23,000.