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.

How we investigate incidents

This page describes the purpose of investigating an incident and how we are informed when a serious incident occurs.

Enforcement powers and policy

Our inspectors have a number of enforcement powers given to them by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which range from giving advice and information through to prosecution in the courts.

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, 173 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.

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.

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.

Handling RAIB recommendations

This page explains our role in handling recommendations from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).


This page gives an overview of the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority for Railways and Other Guided Transport Systems) Regulations 2006 (as amended) (“EARR”), which clarify ORR’s and the Health and Safety Executive’s respective responsibilities for enforcement of health and safety law in relation to railways, tramways and other guided transport systems.