The Health and Safety Executive is planning to introduce a fee for intervention (‘FFI’) cost recovery scheme with effect from 1 October 2012.
There will be a duty on HSE to recover its costs for carrying out its regulatory functions from those found to be in material breach of health and safety law.
Whereas previously, the inspectors would have the discretion to write to the business with an advisory letter, or something stronger such as an Enforcement Notice – all of which would be picked up by the ‘taxpayer’, a likely consequence from October will be that such ‘interventions’ will be accompanied by a bill.
HSE and the government believe it is right that businesses and organisations that break health and safety laws should pay for HSE’s time in putting matters right, investigating and taking enforcement action.
HSE are openly saying that this new charge will also encourage businesses and organisations to comply in the first place or put matters right quickly when they don’t. It will apparently also discourage those who undercut their competitors by not complying with the law and putting people at risk.
As examples of general management issues that are likely to attract action (and therefore, a fee):
- No effective arrangements in place for managing health and safety (including emergency arrangements) where significant risks are present, such as not considering the safety implications of new processes, or not effectively managing contractors on site;
- No assessment of risks to vulnerable people, such as young people or expectant mothers, where significant risks to them are present (e.g. exposure to lead or mercury);
- No access to competent in-house or external health and safety advice where significant risks are not adequately controlled;
- Not providing comprehensible information or training to employees on significant risks and precautions where such information or training is a key control measure; and
- Not making a suitable or sufficient risk assessment where significant risks are not adequately controlled and the precise control measures tailored to the circumstances are not straightforward (e.g. to identify and impleme3nt safe traffic management systems suitable for a particular site, or to identify noise sources and solutions for a range of noisy machinery)
Businesses who have baulked at spending money on Consultants may like to ponder that the HSE’s hourly rate will be £124, and this can be charged for all kinds of work they incur including researching standards, letter-writing etc.