HSE Improvement Notices vs Prohibition Notices

HSE Improvement Notices vs Prohibition Notices

Summary

HSE Improvement Notices vs Prohibition Notices - Learn the differences between HSE Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices, including their purposes, when they are issued, and their impact on workplace safety. Understanding these notices is crucial for compliance and maintaining a safe working environment. If the HSE visits your premises or site and finds something wrong, they will expect you to fix it. You may get an enforcement, improvement, or prohibition notice. But what are the differences between an improvement notice and a prohibition notice?

HSE Improvement Notices vs Prohibition Notices – Learn the differences between HSE Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices, including their purposes, when they are issued, and their impact on workplace safety. Understanding these notices is crucial for compliance and maintaining a safe working environment.

If the HSE visits your premises or site and finds something wrong, they will expect you to fix it. You may get an enforcement, improvement, or prohibition notice. But what are the differences between an improvement notice and a prohibition notice?

Legal hammer Courts UK LAW
Hammer

HSE Improvement Notices vs Prohibition Notices – The HSE is the national regulator for health and safety. That means they enforce health and safety laws. If the HSE visit your premises or site and find something wrong, they will expect you to put it right.

If your workplace does not comply with the health and safety laws, it’s known as a health and safety breach or breach of the regulations. These breaches can lead to action from the HSE.

They may give you verbal or written advice. They might issue a formal caution. Or you may get an enforcement notice.

One of the powers of an HSE inspector is to issue an enforcement notice. These notices are a way to fix health and safety breaches quickly and are effective immediately.

There are two types of enforcement notices issued by the HSE:

  1. Improvement Notices
  2. Prohibition Notices

Both types of notice will include a summary of the inspector’s opinion and details of the breach(es) and danger(s) that have been observed. But what are the differences between an improvement notice and a prohibition notice?

While both mean there has been a breach of health and safety regulations, they have slightly different consequences.

HSE Improvement Notices vs Prohibition Notices

Improvement Notices

  • Breach of health and safety law.
  • It gives you time to put things right.
  • The notice is suspended during an appeal.

As you can probably guess, an improvement notice means there needs to be improvement. It is issued when work has taken place or is taking place that doesn’t comply with health and safety laws.

The improvement notice will identify a breach in the law that needs to be addressed.

An improvement notice applies as soon as it is issued – but it doesn’t require immediate action (although you should take action as soon as you reasonably can). The improvement notice won’t just tell you what needs to be improved but also when it needs to be improved.

A deadline. A time limit by which you need to fix the issue.

So, you get time to make things right instead of stopping work immediately. The deadline will be at least 21 days (to allow time for appeals), but it can be longer.

The inspector determines the amount of time given. They will consider the seriousness of the breach and how quickly it can be fixed.

specify the period for compliance, which should be not less than 21 days from the date of service of the noticeHSE Types of notice

Of course, you shouldn’t wait until the deadline to fix any problems. If any issues arise or an accident happens and you breach health and safety laws, there could be further consequences—like prosecutions or prohibition notices.

Remember that the HSE will also fine you for their time on enforcement action (including improvement notices) under the Fee for Intervention. So it’s best to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

However, implementing safety measures can take time. You’ll have time to make the necessary changes if you have been issued an improvement notice.

If you feel an improvement notice is wrong, it can be appealed. During the appeal of an improvement notice, the notice is suspended while the appeal takes place.

Prohibition Notices

  • Serious risk to health and safety
  • Stops work immediately
  • The notice remains in place during an appeal

A prohibition notice is more serious than an improvement notice. It is issued for more severe health and safety problems and has a more immediate impact because it stops work.

The offending activity must stop as soon as a prohibition notice is served by the HSE.

the act of officially not allowing something, or an order that does thisCambridge Dictionary Prohibition

A prohibition notice would be issued when the inspection felt a severe risk of personal injury to one or more people. For example, if moving machinery parts are not guarded or work at height is carried out without edge protection.

This type of notice is usually issued in person to the person carrying out the activity, even if they are not legally responsible for the safety measures.

This is to ensure they stop work and the dangerous activity immediately.

A copy of the notice will then be issued to the employer, who has legal responsibilities to ensure the work is carried out safely.

Unlike the improvement notice, the prohibition notice doesn’t need a deadline. Work cannot happen until the matters are resolved.

Sometimes, where work is happening, the prohibition notice may be delayed to allow the section of work to finish if stopping immediately would introduce additional risks or if workers need to get to a place of safety. You’ll be told if this is the case.

The work doesn’t necessarily need to have taken place for a prohibition notice to be issued. Where there is an anticipation that something dangerous is about to happen, this notice can be issued to stop that work from happening.

Like with an improvement notice, you can appeal against a prohibition notice if you feel it is wrong. However – because of the presumed danger involved – the prohibition notice remains in place during the appeal process.


HSE Improvement Notices vs. Prohibition Notices -While there are two types of enforcement notices, HSE inspectors can issue one, the other, or both. Just because the prohibition notice is more severe doesn’t mean you need to get an improvement notice first.

For example, a prohibition notice can be issued to stop a dangerous activity. It may be followed by an improvement notice to address the breaches that lead to the risks found.

Prosecutions can follow either type of notice. This could be failing to comply with an enforcement notice or a health and safety breach.

This article was written by Mathew Oldham (HSQE Consultancy Ltd). Mathew has over 20 years of experience in health and safety and an MSc (Hons) in Construction Management. Mathew is NEBOSH Health and Safety, Construction, Fire, Environment and Diploma qualified and CertIOSH.

Enhancing Health and Safety

We are committed to helping you and your business integrate safety into your operations. Our expertise ensures that health and safety measures are not just an afterthought but a fundamental part of your business strategy. Partner with us to create a safer, more compliant workplace and protect your most valuable asset – your people. Want to know more?