To prevent and/or stop unsafe work practices, HSE inspectors have the power to issue enforcement notices. Such notices can damage your organisation’s reputation and/or your ability to attract investors or successfully tender for work.
As an experienced health and safety lawyer, I can advise and represent you if you want to appeal an HSE enforcement notice.
What are the types of notices the HSE can issue?
If, following an investigation, the HSE concludes that you have breached health and safety law, you will be served with either an Improvement Notice or a Prohibition Notice.
An Improvement Notice is an order requiring you to take specific actions to rectify the circumstances which led to the breach of health and safety law.
A time limit of at least 21 days will be given for you to comply with the notices. The HSE inspector will discuss the breach and possible remedies with you prior to issuing the Improvement Notice.
A Prohibition Notice is issued if specific activities taking place on your premises pose a risk of personal injury. For example, if an HSE inspector deems the scaffolding used by employees as unsafe, they may issue a Prohibition Notice forbidding it to be used.
Both Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices must set out the reason the inspector believes they are necessary and the legislation that has been or may be breached. Improvement Notices must also define what actions must be taken to achieve compliance, and Prohibition Notices must state the remedial steps needed for the Notice to be lifted.
Can I ignore an Improvement or Prohibition Notice?
Ignoring an Improvement or Prohibition Notice is a criminal offence which is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. If you receive an enforcement notice, contact me immediately so I can advise you on the best action to take.
Can I appeal an Improvement or Prohibition Notice?
You have a right to appeal an HSE enforcement notice. An appeal must be made within 21 days of receipt of the notice, and if the appeal is successful the notice will be either varied or overturned.
An appeal will suspend an Improvement Notice until after the Employment Tribunal has heard the case.
The Supreme Court case of HM Inspector of Health & Safety v Chevron North Sea Ltd  UKSC 7 widened the scope for which employees could appeal HSE enforcement notices. The Court held that in the case of an Improvement or Prohibition Notice appeal, the Employment Tribunal could hear relevant evidence which became known after the Notice had been served. This means that if new evidence emerges that shows there was no health and safety risk at the time the Notice was issued, that evidence can be put before the Employment Tribunal.
The key to successfully appealing an HSE Improvement Notice or Prohibition Notice is to obtain robust legal advice as soon as possible. Instructing me to advise and represent you allows me to build a strong case for your appeal and seek fresh evidence to support your belief that the Notice is unfair.
I will work tenaciously to ensure that your appeal is successful, and the reputation of your business is protected.