Guide

What to expect from a health and safety visit

Health and safety prosecutions

The health and safety inspector will help you meet your legal duties by offering advice. They would only decide to prosecute if there is enough evidence and if prosecution is in the public interest.

Prosecution is more likely and will normally follow in cases where:

  • someone has been killed due to a breach of law
  • the offence or injury is serious, or the general approach of the offender warrants it
  • there has been repeated poor compliance
  • work has been carried out without a licence where one is needed, or in breach of the terms of that licence
  • work has been carried out without a safety case where one is needed, or fails to follow the processes set out in a safety case
  • the standard of safety management falls far below that expected and causes significant risk
  • there has been a failure to comply with an improvement notice or prohibition notice
  • there has been an intent to deceive in relation to a matter which gives rise to significant risk
  • inspectors have been intentionally obstructed in the course of their duties

The maximum penalty possible under health and safety law depends on the offence. As an example, the maximum penalty for failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice is a £20,000 fine and/or up to six months' imprisonment in a summary trial or an unlimited fine and/or two years' imprisonment in an indictment trial.

The police decide if a work incident is serious enough to warrant investigation of manslaughter, or grievous bodily harm offences.