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Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Investigations Defence
If your business is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the expert solicitors at JMW can assist you at every stage of the proceedings.
HSE investigations can be very serious and can have damaging consequences; however, we have a wide and varied experience in helping businesses of all kinds and sizes to successfully avoid fines and prosecution.
To speak to a solicitor if you are facing an HSE investigation, contact us today by calling 0800 652 5559. Alternatively, fill in our online enquiry form with your details and we will get back to you.
How JMW Can Help
It is vital that you seek legal advice and representation as soon as you are informed that you are subject to an HSE investigation. The solicitors at JMW can represent you during each stage of the investigation process, including assistance with:
- Risk assessments and audits;
- Advice on avoiding a prosecution;
- Attendance at HSE interviews under caution;
- Data and document disclosure issues;
- Defending a criminal prosecution at the Magistrates or Crown Court; and
- Representation at a coroner's inquest
Penalties for breaching health and safety guidelines can be severe, including fines and imprisonment. It is important to obtain expert legal advice in order to protect your position. The team is able to advise firms in any sector, and has particular expertise in the haulage and construction industries.
We know how disruptive and intrusive such investigations can be, and we can advise you to make sure you make the right decisions. The team regularly represents companies and individuals across the country, including in Manchester and London in relation to the following:
- Breach of duty of employer towards employees and non-employees;
- Breach of duty of self-employed to others;
- Breach of duty of employees at work;
- Breach of Health and Safety regulations;
- Secondary liability;
- Corporate manslaughter; and
- Breach of food safety and food hygiene regulations
As a full-service law firm, the specialist team can also draw upon expertise in other departments to ensure clients can access the most appropriate specialists in each case.
Types of HSE Notice
Inspectors who visit work premises as part of a health and safety investigation have the authority to serve three different kinds of notices. These are:
- A prohibition notice ordering the duty holder to stop activity immediately
- An improvement notice specifying remedial action and giving the duty holder a date by which they must complete the action
- A Crown notice, which is issued under the same circumstances that would justify a statutory prohibition or improvement notice, but can only be served on Crown organisations, such as government departments, the Forestry Commission and the prison service
Being served with a notice can have an obvious, direct impact on your business, so seeking expert legal advice as soon as possible to help clarify and defend your position is highly recommended.
The HSE ensures that serious risks are dealt with quickly, businesses comply with the law, and companies that fail to adhere to the law are held accountable. However, with regular updates to legislation, it can be difficult for busy companies to keep on top of any new regulation, but it is vital, as the penalties for failing to do so can be severe.
Duty-holders that fail to uphold standards will receive warning from the HSE in writing or face to face. The body can also warn that laws are potentially being breached.
Our solicitors are experienced in dealing with a variety of health and safety matters, and can advise on compliance or help to ensure that a workplace is up to standard ahead of an inspection, as well as for the long term. We tailor our services to suit you and your business and have advised firms of all sizes, operating in a variety of sectors.
Assistance with HSE Audits
If you would like to begin conducting health and safety audits for your company, we can help to make sure your audits are correct, comprehensive and efficient. Failing to meet industry standards on health and safety is not only a bad business decision, it is also illegal and can have very serious consequences.
When conducting audits, it is essential that you seek help from those with a thorough knowledge of the relevant legislation in your sector, such as the expert solicitors at JMW.
Regular audits are the most effective way of preventing health and safety breaches. It can be surprising for firms to find that there are so many risks in their workplace that they had not considered, but even the smallest changes in business practices can result in a variety of new dangers that must be addressed.
Our team can assist you in conducting efficient audits by:
- Comprehensively assessing your workplace for risks
- Ensuring you are up to date with the latest health and safety regulations for your sector
- Helping identify future risks
- Putting stringent guidelines in place to protect employees and visitors
- Reviewing accident records
- Reviewing trading practices
- Dealing with enforcement notices
Having regular health and safety audits works on two levels:
- It can prevent accidents from occurring in the first place
- It can protect your business from prosecution should the worst happen
If it can be shown that you had stringent health and safety measures in place, it is unlikely you will be vulnerable to legal action if an employee is injured while at work.
What is the HSE?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the governing body responsible for ensuring businesses comply with health and safety law. The body has far-reaching powers that allow it to investigate alleged wrongdoing and poor practices in a workplace before bringing charges.
What are the HSE’s responsibilities?
The HSE is responsible for ensuring health and safety standards are maintained across all workplaces. Should a company breach its guidelines, the body’s powers range from giving advice and warnings to issuing prohibition notices, which can result in cautions, prosecutions or severe fines.
The HSE can:
- Conduct inspections and investigations
- Hold interviews
- Serve improvement and prohibition notices
- Enforce its decisions
- Prosecute in the criminal courts
- Oblige the subject of an enquiry to disclose information
- Withdraw a company’s approvals
- Issue formal cautions
- Make changes to a business’s licences or exemptions
It is therefore vital that you seek legal advice and assistance as soon as you have been informed that you are the subject of an HSE investigation.
Partner and Head of Department
Business Crime, Regulation & Driving Offences