Health and safety enforcement powers

Our inspectors have a number of 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 aim is firm but fair enforcement of health and safety law. Many deficiencies can be dealt with before formal enforcement becomes necessary.

If necessary, we will take action on those who break health and safety legislation, as this puts both passengers and workers at risk.

What enforcement powers do we have?

We have several levels of enforcement action available:

  • information and advice – this could be given verbally, or a written warning of non-compliance;
  • improvement notices – whereby there has to be an improvement in activity within a set timescale
  • prohibition notices – whereby work must stop completely until an issue has been addressed
  • issue cautions – a formal caution is a statement by an inspector and accepted in writing by the dutyholder, that the dutyholder has committed an offence for which there is a realistic prospect of conviction. It will be very unusual for a caution to be issued.
  • prosecution – the final stage where we take action under health and safety legislation. Cases can be prepared against both companies and individuals. They can be heard in either magistrates or crown courts. Those being prosecuted can be fined, although breaches of enforcement notices can result in prison sentences.

Where can I find details of notices and prosecutions?

We hold a public register giving details of when we issue improvement notices, prohibition notices and prosecutions.

Further information