Health and safety investigation and enforcement powers

Notice: letter about new ORR's inspectors health and safety warrants pdf icon PDF, 646 Kb.

As well as giving advice to the industry, we also have a range of formal enforcement powers given to us under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. These are:

  • improvement notices;
  • prohibition notices;
  • prosecution; and
  • formal caution.

Enforcement powers

Sections 21 and 22 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 describes the powers of inspectors to serve improvement and prohibition enforcement notices. Section 33 describes the offences under the Act. These powers relates to all enforcing authorities of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority For Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems) Regulations 2006 (EARR) set out the enforcement responsibilities of ORR. EARR was amended in 2008 to improve clarity in the division of enforcement responsibility. Activities or premises not allocated to ORR for enforcement under EARR Activities are subject to enforcement by either the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) or Local Authorities according to the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998 (EA98).

Read more about our enforcement powers

Enforcement policy

Our health and safety enforcement policy statement pdf icon PDF, 143 Kb is an important document explaining how we will enforce health and safety law. In order to provide a framework which assists inspectors in making consistent enforcement decisions, we have adopted the HSE's Enforcement Management Model. This model sets out a number of factors to be considered when deciding whether to take enforcement action and what level of enforcement action should be taken. Rail guidance document 2003-04 pdf icon PDF, 33 Kb explains how our inspectors should use the model. We have also published ORR specific guidance pdf icon PDF, 965 Kb setting out additional instructions for using the EMM in the railway context.

Read more about our enforcement policy

Enforcement penalties

This section provides details of the sanctions presently available to the courts in respect of health and safety prosecutions. It has been updated to reflect the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008.

Read more about our enforcement penalties

Enforcement action taken

This section gives details of those in the rail industry to whom we have issued improvement or prohibition notices, and those we have prosecuted since 2006, subject to the requirements of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, as amended.Copies of improvement and prohibition notices can be found on our public register.

Read more about our enforcement action taken