Whilst this resource refers to legislation applying in England & Wales, the general powers identified below are the same, or very similar, in many other jurisdictions (e.g. Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Canada, North America, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Australia). Here, the powers afforded to regulatory inspectors (i.e. those appointed by the Health and Safety Executive or a Local Authority) come by way of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 c.37 (note: s.108 of the Environment Act 1995 c.25 affords identical powers to Environment Agency inspectors).

In England & Wales, inspectors may be given any title deemed necessary but are typically referred to as HSE Inspectors or Local Authority Inspectors depending on who they work for. By way of comparison and example, their North American equivalents are called Compliance Safety and Health Officers and are employed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In the United Arab Emirates, their equivalents are called Labour Inspectors and are employed by the Ministry of Labour.

As a general starting point, s.20(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) provides for inspectors to…..

•  Enter any premises at any reasonable time or, if a dangerous situation is suspected, at any time.

•  Take any person with them (including a constable if serious obstruction is felt likely) and any equipment or materials needed.

•  Conduct such investigation and examination as may in any circumstances be necessary.

•  Order premises or parts of them to be left undisturbed for as long as needed.

•  Take such measurements, photographs and recordings as are considered necessary for the purpose of any investigation or examination.

•  Take samples of articles, substances or the atmosphere if needed.

•  Subject any article or substance to test, dismantling or other process if it appears to have caused or to be likely to cause danger to health or safety or take possession of and detain any such article or substance.

•  Ask any person any questions deemed fit and obtain a written declaration as to the truthfulness of their answers.

•  Require the production of any book or document required by a relevant statutory provision or that is needed to assist any investigation or examination.

•  Require any person to afford such facilities and assistance as are within that person’s control in order for the inspector to exercise her/his powers.

•  Any other power needed to carry the relevant statutory provision into effect.


Even though the above powers seem clear, some are wider ranging than might be imagined whilst others are not.




Introduction (see above).

Appointment of Inspectors.

Warrant Cards and Identification.

General Powers – Extent and Limitation.

Rendering Articles and Substances Harmless.

Improvement Notices.

Prohibition Notices.

Quality of Advice and Liability.

Appeals Regarding Enforcement Notices.

Disclosure of Information.

The Inspector as Prosecutor.

Use of Powers.

Fee For Intervention (FFI).


About Neucom

Our core business is industrial accident investigation and we have a wealth of varied experience in that field.

Reading Rooms

Designed for those with an involvement in the accident investigation process, the reading areas consider a range of subjects from the perspective of the accident investigator.

Contact Us

T: +44 (0)1278 661495

error: Content is protected !!