Health and Safety

Understanding a health and safety prohibition notice

Learn from us how devastating a prohibition notice can be for your organisation and employees, and what you can do to avoid them.

Breaches in health and safety regulations can result in a formal notice – known as a prohibition notice – that could lead to a hefty fine or prosecution. The HSE prosecuted 199 health and safety offences in 2020/21, with 185 securing a conviction, a conviction rate of 93%. This is why it’s important to understand your legal responsibilities as an employer, as well as the consequences for not carrying them out. 

Due to the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974, organisations 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 employees with health and safety training. 

Organisations are mostly issued with written or verbal warnings to improve their health and safety standards if they fail to achieve standards. In serious cases, an organisation will be issued a prohibition notice. 

Our Managing safely training course helps you understand your responsibilities under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) and explains what is required in creating and implementing health and safety policies and procedures in your workplace. 


What is a health and safety prohibition notice? 

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

A prohibition notice should: 

  • Tell you which health and safety provisions are in question within your organisation. 
  • Give reasons as to why this decision has been reached. 
  • Order your organisation to resolve the matter. 
  • Give a specific timeframe in which this is to be achieved. 

Why are health and safety prohibition notices given out? 

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

As well as providing organisations 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 organisations believed to pose the highest risks (for example, those working in hazardous industries). 

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. 

Understanding a health and safety prohibition notice

How to avoid a health and safety prohibition notice 

It's vital to make absolutely certain that your organisation isn’t in breach of any health and safety laws. There are ways you can minimise the risk of your organisation being issued a prohibition notice. 

Carry out a risk assessment 

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. 

Enlist the help of health and safety consultants 

Health and safety consultants can help identify serious hazards and breaches within your organisation. Following a risk assessment, plans can be put in place to control risks. 

Provide health and safety training 

It's a legal requirement for all employees to be given adequate health and safety training. 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. 

Our IOSH Approved training courses include our Health and Safety Awareness Course and Health and Safety Induction training so you can help protect employees in the workplace and help meet your compliance needs. 

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