All businesses, from sole traders to large multinationals, are affected by the UK's health and safety laws.
The laws and regulations that set our employers' obligations can be complex, with numerous categories of health and safety requirements that can apply universally as well as industry-specific rules that must be observed at all times. Breaching health and safety laws can have devastating consequences, with substantial fines being imposed for offences that may at first appear relatively minor. To ensure that your business satisfies all health and safety requirements, and to be able to conduct the most robust defence possible should you find yourself under investigation for breaching your obligations, having the support of an experienced team of health and safety solicitors is paramount.
The solicitors at Saunders Law have many years of experience advising businesses of all sizes across a wide range of sectors on all matters relating to health and safety investigations. Our lawyers are trained to the highest standard, with a comprehensive knowledge of health and safety law and a proven track record in successfully defending clients accused of health and safety breaches. We will take a strategic and robust approach throughout, guiding you through an investigation and providing representation in interviews. Our health and safety team can receive instruction from the earliest stage, providing industry-specific advice to ensure you, your business and your reputation are protected. Contact us today on 02076324300 to speak to a member of our team or fill out our online enquiry form.
Who is Responsible for Enforcing Health and Safety Laws?
Workplace safety requirements are managed and supervised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authorities (LAs), who have wide-ranging powers to make sure businesses comply. All employers have a legal duty to make sure that the health and safety of employees is protected, so far as is reasonably practicable. Employers also have an obligation to make sure that non-employees are not exposed to a risk of harm as a consequence of how they carry out their business. ‘Non-employees' covers other people who may be present at the place where work is being carried out, such as members of the public or visitors. These duties also apply to self-employed people and the way in which they carry out their work.
What is a Health and Safety Investigation?
Health and safety investigations may be undertaken by the HSE or LA and can be instigated for a variety of reasons. These can include:
- Concerns raised following a routine inspection
- Following an emergency services call out due to an accident in the workplace
- As a result of a report being made by an employer in compliance with their duties under RIDDOR
- After a complaint has been raised by a member of the public or an employee
Investigations are carried out to determine if health and safety duties have been breached, and if they have then by whom and to what effect. The HSE and LAs have extensive powers to allow them to collect evidence and investigate potential breaches – these powers can be more substantial than those available to police officers, for example enabling investigators to compel an individual to provide information relating to the matters under investigation.
Investigators can demand the production of documents, samples and photographs. Almost all investigations will involve an interview being carried out under caution, with information gathered at this time potentially being used in any future criminal proceedings. Obstruction of an inspector as they seek to carry out their role is a criminal offence.
HSE and LA Prosecutions for Health and Safety Breaches
After an investigation has concluded a decision will be taken about what further action, if any, will be taken. One option available is prosecution for a criminal offence. Cases will be dealt with by the criminal courts and, if proven, the consequences will be a criminal record and a punishment reflecting the seriousness of the breach or breaches. Businesses can be the subject of an unlimited fine, while individuals can also receive an unlimited fine as well as a possible prison sentence.
With such severe consequences, getting the right legal advice at the earliest stage is essential. The decisions taken at the outset of an investigation can have a considerable impact further down the line if criminal proceedings are forthcoming, or whether a health and safety investigation advances to a prosecution. Our health and safety investigations lawyers are on hand to provide immediate representation to help you protect your position and to ensure investigations are concluded early wherever possible.
If an incident occurs at your place of business, from a minor injury to something more serious, speak to one of our health and safety investigations lawyers straight away. We can provide initial advice on what steps to take and provide you with guidance on what to expect from an upcoming investigation. Whatever your circumstances, we can give wide-ranging support on matters such as:
- Initial support following a workplace incident
- Regulatory compliance
- Handling HSE and LA information requests
- Corporate manslaughter and homicide
- Gross negligence manslaughter
- Enforcement, improvement and prohibition notices
- Appealing against enforcement and improvement notices
- Representation for directors and companies in PACE interviews
- Representation in Magistrates' and Crown Court proceedings
- Accident investigations by the HSE, LAs or the police
- Attending coroners’ inquests
Contact Us – Health and Safety Investigations Lawyers in London
Our specialist health and safety investigations solicitors have experience in representing clients across both the public and private sector in respect of all types of health and safety investigations. Our team have a comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of all relevant health and safety legislation, including the provisions found in the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 and take a proactive and robust approach to defend your interests throughout any investigation or prosecution. Whatever your requirements, contact Saunders Law today to find out how we can help.
We offer a 30-minute free consultation, get in touch with us today to arrange an appointment.