Monday, October 16, 2006

Enforcement action

There are a number of options open to enforcing authorities for failure to implement safe systems of work and/or break of regulation.

They can:
* Provide verbal advice
* Issue formal written confirmation of advice or warning
* Issue an improvement notice (with specified timescale)
* Issue a prohibition notice
* Prosecute in Magistrates Court for a breach of H&S legislation
* Prosecute in Crown Court

To serve an improvement notice, an inspector must be of the opinion that there is a breach of relevant statutory provisions, or that there has been a breach that is likely to be continued or repeated. (e.g. a floor that has been poorly maintained in contravention of the requirements of the WHSWR 1992).

For a prohibition notice to be served, an inspector must be of the opinion that there is, or is likely to be, a risk of serious personal injury. (e.g. a scaffold that has been poorly constructed and is therefore in an unsafe condition).

The effect of an appeal against an improvement notice is to suspend the notice until the appeal is heard, whereas a prohibition notice continues in force during this time.

Breaches of HSWA 1974 can lead to
* Magistrates Court - maximum £20k
* Crown Court - unlimited fine

There is no general custodial sentence applicable under the Act. Custodial sentences only apply in limited circumstances including:

* Failure to comply with notices.
* Failure to comply with Licensing conditions
* Failure to comply with the lawful orders of the courts.

In these cases the Magistrates court can impose up to 6 months in prison and Crown Court up to 2 years.


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