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What powers do inspectors have?

Inspectors have the right to enter into any workplace without giving notice, though notice may be given where the inspector thinks that it is appropriate.

On a routine inspection the inspector would expect to look at the workplace, the work activities, documented health and safety management systems and to check that you are complying with the law. A routine inspection may also take place in the form of a “Topic Inspection”.

Inspectors may also visit following a complaint or an accident or incident. The inspector may offer guidance and advice to help you. He/she may also talk to employees and their representatives, take photographs and samples, serve improvement notices and take action if there is a risk to health and safety that needs to be dealt with immediately.

When a member of Fylde Borough Council’s Health and Safety team has carried out an inspection they will tell you about any items which concern them and require attention. The officer will issue a written report of inspection and they will ask you to sign this. The report will confirm the course of action decided upon by the officer. It will indicate if the advice or concerns will be put in writing or any further action to be taken.

Enforcing Health and Safety Law

On finding a breach of health and safety law, the inspector will decide what action to take. The action will depend upon the nature of the breach. In most cases these are:

  • Informal advice and recommendations.
  • Formal advice may be given, either orally or in writing, on the steps needed to put things right.
  • Improvement notices require you to put things right within a certain time. We would normally discuss the time limit with you.
  • Prohibition notices require you to stop doing something until things are put right. We only issue these if we consider there is an imminent risk of serious injury.

We follow up any notice to check that it has been complied with. Failure to comply is a serious offence and is likely to lead to prosecution. Where within court failure to comply with an improvement or prohibition notice carries a fine of up to £20,000, 6 months imprisonment, or both. Higher courts may impose unlimited fines and in some cases imprisonment.

Your rights when an inspector calls

Our inspector’s job is to make sure that your business has acceptable standards of health, safety and welfare. We will tell you what you are required to do by law and we may have to use our powers to do that. Our main aim is to simply help you to what is reasonable and practicable to control risks.

We will:

  • Be courteous
  • Be fair and consistent
  • Tell you our name, show you identification or give you a business card when we visit
  • Tell you our name when speaking on the telephone


If you are unhappy with the way we have dealt with you, we want to know. We want to put things right and we always welcome suggestions to help improve our services.

To complain:

  • Ask the person you have been dealing with the name of their manager
  • You can ask to speak, or if you prefer, write to the manager. They will certainly investigate your complaint and tell you what they are going to do about it
  • If you are not satisfied with Fylde Borough Councils action you can contact HSE’s Local Authority Unit at Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HS. They will see that your complaint is followed up promptly and fairly with the local authority. If it is unable to resolve the problem it will report the matter to the Health and Safety Commission
  • In cases of maladministration you can also make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

If you believe you have received incorrect or unfair health and safety advice from one of our officers, then you may wish to contact The Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel, who will look to investigate your complaint. The Panel consists of Independent members who will have the competence and experience to assess advice that has been given on regulatory matter’s.

For further information visit HSC14

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