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Understanding Health & Safety Prohibition Notices

Posted by Ian Bolton – Sales Manager

No matter what kind of industry you work in, every business needs a detailed health and safety policy. After all, effective safety procedures will raise awareness of workplace hazards and reduce the risk of accident or illness; ultimately reducing absence rates, improving productivity and saving substantial amounts of money.

Due to the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974, business owners have a legal obligation to protect staff members, visitors and customers through any “reasonably practicable” means. These measures typically involve carrying out thorough risk assessments, creating a written health and safety policy, and providing all employees with adequate health and safety training. However, different employers will inevitably have different responsibilities.

Any breaches in health and safety law will result in the formal notice, which could eventually lead to a hefty fine or, in more extreme circumstances, prosecution. Of course, this is why it’s so important for you to understand your legal responsibilities as an employer, as well as the consequences for not proactively carrying them out.

How is Health & Safety Enforced?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing health and safety law in the workplace. Along with local authorities, it is their responsibility to ensure that all businesses are implementing safe working practises and minimising the risk of accident, while they also hand out penalties and improvement notices to those found to be in breach of health and safety law.

As well as providing businesses with information and guidance, HSE will visit individual organisations to ensure effective safety policies have been put in place. These visits are typically reserved for businesses believed to pose the highest risks (for example, those working in hazardous industries), but they’ll also investigate any concerning complaints or incidents.

These visits usually involve an assessment of the risks in the workplace, as well as a thorough examination of the measures put in place to counter them. When these measures are deemed inadequate, you’ll likely be handed either an improvement or prohibition notice.

What is an HSE Prohibition Notice?

A prohibition notice is issued to an employer if they haven’t enforced safe working practises, and these unsafe practises are believed to pose a serious risk of injury or death. When you’re served the notice, you’re legally obliged to immediately cease the dangerous activity until safer procedures have been put in place. A failure to comply with a prohibition notice will result in prosecution.

When you’re contravening health and safety law, but the breaches don’t pose a risk of serious injury, you’ll be handed an improvement notice instead; which provides you with an opportunity to rectify any issues within at least 21 days.

Either way, a material breach will always result in the HSE Fee For Intervention (FFI), which is currently £129 for every hour spent identifying and rectifying any risks.

How to Avoid a Health & Safety Prohibition Notice

The only way to avoid an HSE prohibition notice is to make absolutely certain that your business isn’t in breach of any health and safety laws. By carrying out adequate risk assessments and identifying hazards in the workplace, you can then take steps towards minimising those risks and helping employees understand how to work safely.

Although you might consider it something of a secondary concern, it’s now a legal requirement for all employees to be given adequate health and safety training, while managers and other senior members of staff also need to be made aware of their health and safety responsibilities.

Our health and safety online courses ensure all employees and managers can effectively identify common workplace hazards. Teaching staff the importance of risk assessments and creating a safer working environment, these courses will help you stay in line with legislation and avoid any HSE penalties. To learn more, contact us today!


Ian Bolton – Sales Manager

Ian is our UK Corporate Sales Manager and has been looking after new business at Praxis42 since October 2016. He has a background in Compliance and Training having previously worked for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. His speciality is supporting clients to onboard or replace eLearning, as well as other training and compliance services that Praxis42 offer. Since being in role Ian completed his NEBOSH General Certificate and Advanced Food Safety.

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