The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is now operating a Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme which came into operation on the 1st October 2012.
Under the Health & Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012 those who break health and safety laws are liable for recovery of HSE@s costs which would include inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action. Under the scheme, costs would be chargeable at a rate of £124 an hour.
Costs will be recovered where the HSE has to make a formal written intervention to address an alleged contravention such as the issue of an enforcement letter or enforcement notice. This would not apply in relation to verbal advice and the HSE’s existing power to recover prosecution costs following successful conviction (in England & Wales only) is unaffected.
The scheme will apply in nearly all sectors enforced by the HSE other than those where a charging scheme already exists (such as offshore energy and certain other hazardous industries) or to activities regulated by local authority inspectors for health and safety (e.g. shops and office-based businesses). It remains to be seen exactly how the charging regime will work in practice and whether the inconsistency of the HSE charging for intervention where local authorities cannot will prove problematic.
This new scheme is yet another reason why it is important for all businesses to be compliant with Health & Safety rules and regulations. After all, the costs are only charged when a breach has occurred! Further details can be found on the HSE document – ‘Fee for Intervention – what you need to know’.