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Criminal Law - Enforcement (H&S)

Criminal Law - Enforcement

Health and safety legislation is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and by local authority Environmental Health Departments. Generally the HSE enforces the law in higher risk undertakings (such as factories, farms, building sites, etc.) and the local authority enforces it in lower risk establishments (such as offices, shops, etc.).

The employer must display an official poster at his workplaces which provides an outline of health and safety legislation and on which he must identify details of the enforcing authority covering the workplace. The employer can obtain copies of the required Health and Safety at Work poster from The Stationery Office (HMSO). If he is in doubt as to the enforcing authority and its address he should phone the local authority or local office of the HSE to check.

The HSC has published a policy on enforcement of health and safety rules, which provides employers with a helpful insight on the areas of most concern. The policy states that prosecution would normally take place when:

  • There has been a workplace death caused by a breach of the law;
  • There has been reckless disregard of health and safety;
  • The employer’s level of health and safety management is far below what is required.

Enforcement authorities will also be expected to investigate the role of the management chain and individual directors and managers and to take action against them where it appears to be justified.

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