The best defence is a good defence and HSE Software is that defence. With the new legislation passed, the HSE is coming down hard with increased site inspections, fines and prosecutions. This is not just when things have gone wrong, but on companies found to be out of compliance. The below 7 points identified by the HSE are the main issues entailed in a HSE site inspection:
Investigation includes all those activities carried out in response to an incident or a complaint:
- To gather and establish the facts.
- To identify immediate and underlying causes and the lessons to be learned.
- To prevent recurrence.
- To detect breaches of legislation for which HSE is the enforcing authority.
- To take appropriate action, including formal enforcement.
An investigation may range from an enquiry by a single inspector about a minor incident or a large enquiry involving a team of inspectors.
A complaint is a concern, originating from outside HSE, about a work activity for which HSE is the enforcing authority. We respond where we can identify the duty holder and/or the location and where:
- there has been significant harm, or there is the potential for significant harm.
- the complaint alleges the denial of basic employee welfare facilities; or the complaint appears to constitute a significant breach of law for which HSE is the enforcing authority.
An inspector may serve one of three types of notice:
- A prohibition notice tells the duty holder to stop an activity immediately.
- An improvement notice specifies remedial action and gives the duty holder a date by which they must complete the action.
- A Crown notice is issued under the same circumstances that would justify a statutory prohibition or improvement notice, but is only served on duty holders in Crown organisations such as government departments, the Forestry Commission or the Prison Service.
Prosecution is punitive action taken against a duty holder following a decision making process that is impartial, justified and correct.
An Approval Officer has the authority to approve a prosecution, and the necessary legal competencies to assess a prosecution report in a way that is thorough, fair, independent and objective.
A Litigation Officer has received appropriate training to administer the prosecution, guided by either an inspector or a solicitor.
5. Major Incident
A major incident is a significant event that demands a response beyond the routine. The event may cause, or have the potential to cause, either:
- multiple serious injuries, cases of ill health (either immediate or delayed), or loss of life; or serious disruption or extensive damage to property.
‘Significance’ depends on:
- the severity of the incident.
- the degree of public concern.
- the nature and extent of HSE's previous involvement with the duty holder(s).
Following a successful prosecution, the courts will decide what penalty to impose. HSE believes that the current general level of fines does not properly reflect the seriousness of health and safety offences. However, it is up to the courts to decide appropriate fines. In England and Wales (though not in Scotland), the courts may also order the defendant to pay the prosecution costs.
As well as imposing fines, the courts can imprison offenders. Five people have been sent to prison for health and safety offences since January 1996. Of course, if convicted of manslaughter or culpable homicide, offenders are likely to receive a prison sentence.
More detail on the maximum penalties for health and safety offences can be found at the back of the HSE Enforcement Policy Statement .
We also believe that many of the maximum penalties available for health and safety offences are too low – as the courts have themselves said on occasion. The Government supports our view and is committed to increasing many of the maximum fines available to the lower courts as well as making imprisonment more widely available for both lower and higher courts.
7. Work-related deaths
Under the terms of the Work Related Deaths protocols following a work related death the police will take the lead in a joint investigation with HSE or other relevant enforcing authority to see whether there is sufficient evidence to suggest that a serious criminal offence (other than a health and safety offence), such as gross negligence manslaughter (in Scotland, culpable homicide) or corporate manslaughter (in Scotland, corporate homicide) may have caused the death. If there is insufficient evidence that such a serious criminal offence (other than a health and safety offence) caused the death, then HSE or the relevant enforcing authority will take over and investigate under health and safety law.
In order to help avoid HSE inspections, prosecutions and fines, Engage EHS has a very compatible HSE Software that is your best defence in protecting yourself and your employees by giving you the control to strive for a zero harm safety culture. To find out more information on our cloud based software system, why not Contact one of our product experts and Request A Demo.
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