Powers of Inspectors


The powers of inspectors are contained in section 20 of the health and safety at work act of 1974. In this section, inspectors are given the power to:

  • To enter premises at any time that they deem to be reasonable.
  • To take along a police constable if they believe they will be obstructed.
  • To take along another person and any equipment (perhaps a specialist inspector).
  • To examine and investigate.
  • To direct that premises and anything within them be left undisturbed.
  • To take measurements and photographs and make recordings.
  • To take samples.
  • To order the dismantling or testing of any article or substance which appears to have caused danger (only damaging or destroying it where necessary).
  • To take possession of and detain an article or substance (for examination, to ensure it is not tampered with and to ensure it is available in evidence for any proceedings).
  • To require any person to answer questions and to sign a declaration of the truth of the answers given.
  • To require the production of books and documents for the purpose of inspection and copying.
  • To require any necessary facilities and assistance.
  • Any other powers which are necessary.


The enforcement of health and safety at work legislation is carried out by inspectors. In principle, the legislation is governed by the health and safety at work act of 1974.

Enforcement can be provided by the act, therefore the onus of proof is shifted onto the accused. A similar situation occurs when an approved code of practice is introduced in evidence.

In order for the health and safety executive to performs its role of enforcement, specialist and general inspectors are appointed to work on its behalf.

Role of the HSE

Inspectors are granted certain rights under the health and safety act work act. Warrant cards are issued to inspectors by the health and safety executive to allow them to carry out their duties.

In addition, local authority environmental health inspectors carry out certain roles of behalf on the health and safety executive.


In general, health and safety executive inspectors enforce industrial premises and fairgrounds. Whereas local authority inspectors enforce commercial premises, retail premises and food premises.

The appointment of inspectors is governed by section 19 of the health and safety at work act.

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