HMRC internal manual

Compliance Operational Guidance

COG11400 - Our Conduct and Behaviour: health and safety of the customer

The guidance in CH255505, COG11500 and HR62040 set out the steps you should take when considering your personal safety at meetings away from the office.

You must also consider the health and safety of the customer during a compliance check. This includes the situation where the customer becomes ill during a compliance check.

If you are already aware that a person is unwell, then it may be more appropriate to carry out a check by correspondence, rather than making a visit or attending a meeting. If a visit or meeting is appropriate, you may suggest that the person is accompanied by a family member, friend or colleague.

Where you are meeting a disabled person you may need to make reasonable adjustments. Guidance on working with disabled customers is at HR6157.

If the person becomes ill during a compliance visit you should end the visit. You should also decide whether you need to take any further action to secure the health and safety of the person.

In most cases the person will not be on their own. However, if there is no one else to take any action you will need to consider whether you need to take action or remain with them until someone else has taken over this responsibility or the person has recovered enough to make their own decision on what to do. Do not remain with them if this puts your own health and safety at risk.

If possible, and unless the person disagrees, you should try to contact a friend, family member or colleague known to the person and stay with them until they arrive. However, there may be circumstances where this is not enough.

For example:

  • If you think the person is seriously ill you should call an ambulance.
  • If the person starts to behave violently or irrationally you must first secure your own safety and then call the emergency services.
  • If during a meeting the person suggests they have very recently taken any kind of harmful substance, you should take this seriously and call an ambulance.
  • If the person threatens suicide you should take this seriously. Likewise, if you are concerned that the person is suicidal you should let them know that you take them seriously. Treat them with respect, avoid arguments and aim to communicate patience, sympathy and acceptance. If possible you should try to contact a friend or family member and stay with them until they arrive. If this is not an option then you should call the emergency services.

A useful Desk Aid for dealing with customers who threaten suicide or to harm themselves or others  is now available.

You must notify Internal Governance immediately if, during a compliance check:

  • you have had any type of contact with a person who dies or suffers a serious injury - this contact could be direct or through the person’s representative


  • the contact may have caused or contributed to the death or serious injury, whether directly or indirectly.

You do not need to notify Internal Governance if the person dies from natural causes during the compliance check.

See CECCG1530 and Death or Serious Injury (DSI) following contact with HMRC for the full guidance.