What to expect from a health and safety visit

The health and safety inspector's rights and powers


The health and safety inspector may enter your work premises at any reasonable time. Remember that work premises can include the homes of your homeworkers.

Health and safety compliance officers are specially trained staff whose role is to support the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) regulatory work. Their work is similar to that of an Inspector and they will also give you advice, information and guidance.

Five powers health and safety inspectors have

Health and inspectors have the authority to take certain actions, including:

  • carrying out examinations and investigations, including taking measurements, photographs and samples
  • taking possession of an article and arranging for it to be dismantled or tested
  • seizing and making safe any article or substance that could cause serious personal injury
  • requesting information and taking statements from people they think can help an investigation
  • inspecting and copying documents

Health and safety inspection after an accident

Usually the inspector will be visiting to carry out a routine health and safety inspection. However, they could also visit you after an accident that may have been caused by work activities. See first aid, accidents and illness in the workplace.

They will then be seeking to:

  • investigate the causes of the accident
  • advise you whether you need to take action to prevent a recurrence
  • determine if there has been a breach of health and safety law

Actions the health and inspector may take

If the inspector considers that you are breaking health and safety law, or your activities give rise to a serious risk, they can:

  • issue an informal warning, verbally or in writing
  • issue an improvement notice or prohibition notice
  • carrry out an investigation and make recommendations to the Public Prosecution Service concerning both the company or individuals