What to expect from a health and safety visit

Advice and informal warnings from the health and safety inspector


If you are breaking health and safety law, the inspector will:

  • tell you what the problem is
  • advise you what you need to do to comply with the law
  • explain why you should do so

Inspectors may either:

  • confirm their recommendations with a brief compliance report issued at the inspection
  • follow up any verbal advice given to you during their visit in writing

You can ask the inspector to do this and to make clear the differences between legal requirements and best practice.

You are not obliged to follow the advice given by the inspector, but it is a good idea to do so. If you ignore an inspector's advice, they are likely to take tougher action against you in the future. this could invlove issuing an enforcement notice, forcing you to comply. There are two types of enforcement notice - improvement and prohibition. See health and safety improvement notices and health and safety prohibition notices.

If a breach of health and safety law that has already been noted by an inspector causes an accident, the inspector's letter to you may be taken into account by the courts if you are prosecuted.

Inspectors will also check that you carry out your legal duty of consulting and informing employees or their representatives, eg union or employee safety representative, about health and safety matters. It is likely that inspectors will want to meet with them in private during their visit.