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New HSE powers will increase cost of non-compliance

ISI Posted 25th October 2012

Failure to comply with applicable safety regulations could now cost even more, following the introduction of the FFI recovery scheme

HSE Intervention charges from October 2012

The Health and Safety Executive now operates a Fee for Intervention (FFI) cost recovery scheme, which came into effect on 1 October 2012.

Under The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who are found to be in material breach of health and safety laws are liable for recovery of HSE’s related costs, including inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action, at a rate of £124 per hour.

A “material breach” is any failure to comply with health and safety law which the inspector judges to be serious enough for them to notify you in writing.

What are the chances my businesses will charged?

Whilst there has been a reduction in the number of proactive HSE inspections in recent times, the HSE does have the power to conduct unannounced inspections and will do so when it feels necessary – so no business is “safe” from scrutiny.

The HSE doesn’t charge for the inspection itself, however any contravention is found, you will be charged for any work from that point onward.

The charges will include time taken by the HSE to write to you and to document the contravention, as well as any of the following which might apply:

  • writing notifications of contravention and reports
  • preparing and serving improvement or prohibition notices
  • follow-up work to ensure compliance (e.g. site visits, telephone calls, email correspondence, reviewing documentation provided)
  • taking statements
  • specialist assistance
  • gathering information/evidence
  • assessing the findings and the documentation of inspection, investigation and enforcement conclusions;
  • recording conclusions and inspection, investigation and enforcement information
  • reviewing investigations to ensure progress and appropriate lines of enquiry are followed
  • research related to the material breach that is needed to carry out the tasks outlined above.

Is there a limit on how much my business can be charged?

In theory, no, and it’s easy to see how costs could mount up into thousands of pounds for a serious breach. The FFI charges can only be stopped by one of the two following things taking place.

You resolve the contravention(s) by the time the HSE inspector conducts a follow-up inspection – the time for which you will also be charged for.

When court proceedings are issued following your failure to comply with HSE enforcement notice. Your business will still be liable for any billable time up until that point.

FFI charges are of course aside from any fines and associated legal costs associated with any charge brought to your business by the HSE.

Need for regular safety inspections

Being in breach of the regulations already carries significant business and financial risk, and introduction of the FFI cost recovery scheme can only add to the costs.

Prevention is better than cure so contact the team at ISI to make sure that you are compliant before the HSE comes to call!

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