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Powers of inspectors

Powers of inspectors

Health and safety inspectors have the right to enter any workplace without giving notice, though notice may be given if the inspector thinks it is appropriate.

On an inspection, the inspector will do one or more of the following:

  • look around the workplace
  • look at the work activities being carried out
  • look how you manage health and safety
  • talk to one or more of your employees or their representatives
  • take photographs and/or copies of documents
  • take a constable if there is likely to be any serious obstruction in the execution of their duty
  • take with them any other person duly authorised by the inspectors enforcing authority, ie, a qualified electrician
  • take samples of any articles or substances found at the premises

This list is not exhaustive and full details of the powers of inspectors can be found in Section 20(2) and 25 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After carrying out the inspection, the inspector will decide what action to take.

This could be:

  • compliance – advise the business they are complying with health and safety law
  • informal action – provide verbal or written advice
  • improvement notice – issued where the breach in law is more serious
  • prohibition notice – issued where an activity involves, or will involve, a risk of serious personal injury
  • simple caution
  • prosecution 

Appeals to statutory notices

When an improvement notice or prohibition notice is served, the appeal process will be shown on the notice and in a booklet enclosed with the notice, which contains instructions and a form explaining how to make an appeal to an employment tribunal.

Further information is available: What to expect when an inspector calls.


A complaint is the expression of dissatisfaction by any individual or organisation where:

  • (a) the council has failed to carry out a service
  • (b) the council has not carried out the service to the satisfaction of the customer
  • (c) there has been undue delay, by the council, in responding to a request for action over which it has some control
  • (d) the treatment by or the attitude of a council employee has not been helpful

We shall endeavour to investigate and resolve the complaint within five working days.  If this is not possible the complainant will be sent an acknowledgement letter, with a full reply within 21 working days. If the complaint cannot be investigated and resolved within 21 working days, the investigating officer shall keep the complainant informed as to how the complaint is progressing.

Last updated on 13 January 2016