In addition to the routine inspection and advisory work we carry out, we also investigate workplace accidents and complaints relating to workplaces or work activities for which we have enforcement responsibility - e.g. shops, warehouses, offices, hotels and catering, sports, leisure, consumer services, (e.g. launderettes, hairdressers, undertakers, shoe repair, tyre and exhaust fitters), residential care homes and churches.
Accidents occur for a number of reasons, and valuable lessons can be learnt by looking at the circumstances surrounding them.
Employers and self employed persons have a duty under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) to report certain types of accident and cases of ill-health to their enforcing authority. For details of what must be reported and how to report the, click here
We examine all RIDDOR reports we receive and decide whether or not an investigation should be made, based on the information contained in the report.
We investigate incidents in order to:
- Identify what happened
- Try and prevent it from happening again
- Identify whether it was foreseeable
- Establish whether anyone had failed in their duty
When investigating incidents we may:
- Telephone or write to an employer seeking further information on the incident and details of what has been done to prevent similar accidents from happening.
- Visit and inspect the workplace.
- Examine company safety documentation (e.g. safety policy, risk assessments, etc) and any records or reports which relate to the incident.
- Speak to any witnesses.
- Speak to safety representatives, managers, contractors, supplier
- Take photographs or measurements or take copies of relevant documentation.
- Take statements or ask individuals questions in private.
- Visit an injured person or witness at home if they are not at work.
We also investigate complaints from employees, members of the public and other persons regarding health, safety or welfare issues in workplaces or work activities for which we have enforcement responsibility.
We would encourage employees to raise any concerns with their employer (either directly, or through a safety representative or other employee representative if you have one) before contacting us. This gives your employer a reasonable opportunity to address your concerns before we become involved.
We will respond to all complaints about health and safety matters, and it is our policy to keep the source of a complaint confidential. (There may be situations where this is not possible, but the inspector will discuss this matter with the complainant beforehand, providing we have relevant contact details).
On completion of any investigation, we may take one or more of the following courses of action:
- Give written or verbal advice on measures required to remedy any contraventions found
- Serve one or more Improvement or Prohibition Notices (in some cases this action be taken at an early stage in the investigation where an unsafe condition is readily apparent or the necessary remedial measures are identified at an early stage)
- Prosecute a company and/or individual where serious failings are identified
- Offer a Formal Caution as an alternative to prosecution in certain situations
To see a copy of our Divisional Enforcement Policy go to our webpage Enforcement Policy
What you can do
As an employer or self employed person you should always adopt a positive approach to dealing with legitimate staff concerns on health, safety and welfare issues, as not only can this help you to identify and act on possible legal contraventions, but it will help to maintain a good working relationship with your employees, demonstrate your commitment to safety in the workplace, and help to secure their (essential) cooperation in meeting your legal duties.
Every year people are killed or injured at work, and over 40 million working days are lost annually in Great Britain through work-related injuries and ill health, at a cost to business of £2.5 billion (the majority of which is not covered by business insurance).
Well thought out risk control measures, combined with adequate supervision, monitoring and effective management will ensure your work activities are safe. The investigation and analysis of work-related accident and incidents forms an essential part of managing health & safety. The reason for this is that most accidents are preventable, and properly identifying the factor or factors that were involved means that you can learn from each incident and take effective steps to prevent a recurrence.
To see the media story on a recent prosecution of a Newcastle business which followed the discovery by officers of various health and safety issues, go to the Chronicle of the 26 May 2015.
For more information, please contact the Health and Safety service, Public Safety, Regulation and Development, City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH. Phone: 0191 2116102. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org