Complaints about unsafe and unhealthy work activities

This procedure describes how HSENI deals with complaints made to it by employees, safety representatives or members of the public about unsafe or unhealthy work activities in Northern Ireland.

If you are concerned that a work activity may be endangering the health or safety of any person or persons you can contact HSENI.

Ways to make a complaint

For concerns relating to workplaces in Northern Ireland you can contact HSENI.  

For complaints relating to workplaces within England, Scotland or Wales please see the HSE (GB) website at the following link:

It is preferable that you contact HSENI by telephone, as by being able to speak to you we will be able to gain the fullest understanding of the complaint and how best it might be handled.

If concerns are completed online and submitted anonymously HSENI will not be able to inform you if HSENI is not the correct enforcing authority, or to redirect you to the most appropriate body.

Depending on the type of workplace concerned, the local council's Environmental Health Department may be the enforcing authority for health and safety rather than HSENI.

For information on the type of workplaces HSENI has health and safety enforcement responsibilty for please see the following HSENI webpage:

HSENI is tasked by Government to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of those in employment and those who may be affected by a work activity. The legislation we enforce is the Health and Safety at Work Order (Northern Ireland) 1978 and the regulations associated with that Order.

There may also be specific elements within the overall health and safety concern which fall outside HSENI's remit.  The following list provides examples where another organisation may be in a better position to assist:  

Alternatively the concern may relate to a land / boundary issue between neighbours which would be a civil issue, rather than something specifically related to health and safety at work.

For complaints relating to workplaces within Northern Ireland you can get in touch in the following ways:

You can also contact us by post at the following address:

HSENI
83 Ladas Drive
Belfast
BT6 9FR

Any information that you give will be treated in confidence, unless we are required to disclose it for legal reasons.

Information about complaints

A complaint is a concern, originating from outside HSENI, in relation to a work activity for which HSENI is the enforcing authority, that is sufficiently specific to enable identification of the issue and who has responsibility for the work activity, for example employer or building contractor and/or location, and that either:

  • has caused or has potential to cause significant harm to individuals
  • denies basic employee welfare facilities 
  • appears to constitute a significant breach of law for which HSENI is the enforcing authority

HSENI will investigate every such complaint received unless:

  • it is outside the scope of the Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978
  • the complainant wishes to remain anonymous and will not allow HSENI to disclose that a complaint has been received*
  • it has been made by an employee and has not been taken up with his/her employer or trade union**
  • it is from a serial complainant and HSENI decides no further action is required
  • there are no reasonably practicable precautions
  • it is impracticable to investigate

HSENI may also decide not to investigate:

  • where there have been a number of previous complaints against an employer and a significant proportion of those complaints have been found to be spurious
  • where there has been a significant delay between an alleged breach or incident and the time that it is reported to HSENI (in these circumstances HSENI may chose only to assess any ongoing risk)

In exceptional circumstances HSENI may also decide not to investigate where it is faced with inadequate resources or other emerging priorities.

Click on this link to make an online report of a complaint about unsafe work activities

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(*) Except where the complainant is an employee who may easily be identified and whose identification may endanger their future employment; a member of the public who is at risk or affected by the work activity; or a person whose property borders the workplace concerned.

(**) Except where the complainant is an employee who may easily be identified and whose identification may endanger their future employment.