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43% rise in tip-off led inspections

03 June 2013

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is sharply increasing the number of tip-off led inspections that it launches against businesses, according to figures from law firm Pinsent Masons.

Based on a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, Pinsent Masons learned that the HSE undertook 3,475 inspections based on tip-offs in the last year (year end March 31 2013). This is a 43% increase on the 2,429 inspections undertaken in the previous 12 months.

The HSE receives intelligence on possible health and safety breaches from a number of sources. These can include: whistleblowing reports from employees or union representatives, complaints by local residents, customers and suppliers, and insurance reports on workplace incidents.

Since October 2012, the HSE has been able to charge businesses for inspections if breaches of regulations are found.

Simon Joyston-Bechal, a partner at Pinsent Masons, warned businesses that the increasing number of tip-off led investigations by HSE means they cannot afford to cut back on their health and safety budgets as they attempt to lower costs.

He said: "Health and safety can sometimes be seen as an easy area for cost-cutting when bottom lines are under pressure. HSE knows this, and is clearly becoming more proactive in rooting out any regulatory breaches as soon as it has evidence.

"HSE’s new approach has made cost-cutting in health and safety even riskier than in the past. All directors and senior managers need to understand their obligations for health and safety and the proactive steps that the criminal law requires them to take to stay out of jail.”