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Health and Safety Inspectorate (HSI) proactive inspection and investigations

11 April 2024

​​​​The Health and Safety at Work Law places duties on employers, employees, the self-employed and others to manage the health and safety risks they create, we refer to those with responsibilities in law as ‘dutyholders’.   

​​​HSI’s role is to​ ensure that duty holders manage and control their risks effectively, so preventing harm. Two important methods HSI use to influence behavioural change to help dutyholders manage their risks, focus on the dutyholders work activities: targeted proactive inspections and investigations into specific incidents.    

Workplac​​​e Inspection

During an inspection, the Inspector will look at how workers, and anyone who may be affected by the work, are kept healthy and safe.  

The Inspector may: 

  • ​​​​ask​​ about the workers and what they do
  • look at any possible health risks arising from the work 
  • look at machinery or other equipment
  • ask to see any records or documents
  • take photographs
  • speak to the workers
The Inspector will want to know about: 
  • ​th​e main health and safety issues in the workplace 
  • the dutyholders knowledge or experience of health and safety 

We may also ask about things like safety standards, guidance and everyday practices in the industry. 

​​The Inspector may take action if they find that the dutyholder is breaking the law during the visit. 

An inspection provides a snapshot in time of how well the dutyholder is managing their risks.  We focus on specific issues and risks during an inspection, we do not audit the entirety of the workplace activity.  Should a dutyholder want a comprehensive audit they should engage a competent person to do this.  

Incident In​​v​​​​estigation

HSI investigate specific incidents, accidents or ill-health occurrences.  Such investigations provide for a more detailed examination of how a dutyholder is managing the risks relating to a specific incident. 

Investigations are undertaken to determine:

  • the underlying causes
  • whether action has been taken or needs to be taken to prevent a reoccurrence and to secure compliance with the law
  • lessons to be learnt, including the identification of developments required in law or guidance
  • what response is appropriate to a breach of the law

When we investigate we:

  • gather and establish the facts
  • identify immediate and underlying causes and lessons to be learned
  • take actions to prevent recurrence
  • identify any breaches of health and safety legislation
  • ​consider appropriate enforcement, including referring breaches to the Attorney General for consideration of prosecution

An investigation may range from an enquiry by a single inspector about a minor incident or complaint to a large enquiry involving a team of inspectors. Other agencies may be involved, e.g. the police where there has been a work-related death.

At all times the responsibility for managing health and safety risks lies with the dutyholder.  Where an Inspector requires a dutyholder to address a particular issue during an inspection or investigation the dutyholder may need to engage competent health and safety advice in order to control the risk.

Further informa​​​ti​on

Health and Safety Inspectorate: who we are and what we do ( 

Health and safety inspector visits: what to expect (

Health and safety at work: the law (

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