Complaints received by the inspectorate
The Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate receives approximately 175 complaints each year. These involve many different working activities and the level of risk causing concern varies greatly.
In response to the number and type of complaints received, a new risk-based approach for dealing with them has been developed by the Health and Safety Inspectorate to provide better use of its available resources.
This response to complaints based on a risk-based approach is in line with the inspectorate’s enforcement policy.
What is a complaint?
We define a complaint as:
A concern in relation to a work activity for which the Health and Safety Inspectorate is the enforcing authority, that is sufficiently specific to enable identification of the issues and the dutyholder and / or location, and that either:
- has caused or has potential to cause significant harm, or alleges the denial of basic employee welfare facilities; or
- appears to constitute a significant breach of law for which the Health and Safety Inspectorate is the enforcing authority.
How we respond to your complaint
The way in which we will deal with your complaint is determined by:
- the seriousness of the injury caused or which may be caused
- the number of persons injured or who may be injured
- the likelihood of the incident occurring or reoccurring
We will use the following decision matrix to decide on the appropriate response and to help us achieve consistency:
|Possible injury or health risk
at one time
|Serious personal injury (fatal or
major) or serious health effect
(permanent, progressive or
irreversible condition, or
|Single or low
Significant injury or significant
health effect (non-permanent,
progressive, reversible or non
progressive condition or temporary
|Single or low
Minor injury or minor health
effect (conditions not included
Single or low
1 = serious risk
2 = significant risk
3 = low risk
How we respond to each level of risk
We will respond within one working day for a category 1 (serious risk).
We will respond within five working days for a category 2 (significant risk).
We won't follow up a category 3 (low risk).
Information we need when you make a complaint
You will need to provide sufficient information to help us evaluate your complaint and follow it up if necessary.
You will be asked for:
- confirmation that the activity is work-related
- full details of the issues of concern and what risks you consider they pose to health or safety of persons
- details of the dutyholder eg the company name and/or a detailed description of the location of the work
If not enough information is provided
If insufficient information is provided to meet the definition of a complaint but it would otherwise have been classified as a Category 1 (serious risk) complaint, an inspector will make the decision whether to follow it up or not.
Providing us with your contact details
You will be asked to provide your name and contact details which you can request to be kept confidential.
In general, we won't respond to anonymous complaints although in the case of a complaint which would be classified as Category 1 (serious risk), an inspector will make the decision whether to follow it up or not.
Making a complaint about your own workplace
If you want to make a complaint about your workplace, we will encourage you to use any formal routes of communication with your employer for reporting concerns.
Advising you of any action taken
You will be asked if you would like feedback in response to your complaint and reasonable attempts will be made to contact you.
Complaints which aren't followed up
If your complaint is not followed up due to it being categorised as low risk, the inspectorate will make reasonable attempts to contact you to provide an explanation for this decision.
Your right of appeal
You have a right of appeal to the Director of Health and Safety who will review the matter in order to ensure that the response made to the complaint was in accordance with the complaints procedure.
Personal injury claims or other civil proceedings
The inspectorate is unable to respond to complaints relating to claims for compensation or civil contract matters and, in such cases we will refer you to your own legal advisor.