The Health and Safety Executive’s Fee for Intervention Explained
It seems that the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is looking for ways to recover its cost with the Fee for Intervention (FFI) which was first introduced in October 2012 as a means of passing on the costs of regulating health and safety in the workplace costs to the businesses that are breaking the law. This is to ensure that the costs of intervention by the HSE are paid by violators of health and safety regulations, rather than being paid by the UK’s tax payers.
Under the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break the health and safety laws are liable for recovery of the HSE’s related costs, including the inspection, investigation and any enforcement action taken. The HSE can recover costs if there has been a “material breach of health and safety law”. A material breach has been defined as one where an organization or business has broken the law and the attending health and safety inspector considers it serious enough to notify the company in writing about this. If the inspector simply gives verbal advice on the improvements that are required, then there is no charge. However, when an inspector identifies a serious health and safety failings in the workplace, and they need to write to the duty holder about this, then the duty holder will be required to pay the costs of the HSE inspection – at an hourly rate of £129!
Before deciding to notify the company in writing, the inspector is required to apply the principles of the HSE’s Enforcement Policy Statement and Enforcement Management Model to make sure that their decision on the level of enforcement action is proportionate to the circumstances. The inspector’s written notification will clarify exactly which contraventions are deemed to be material breaches where a fee is payable.
The FFI only applies to work carried out by the HSE’s inspectors, so if your business is inspected for health and safety by another regulatory body, such as a local authority or environmental health officers, the FFI will not apply. In fact the FFI applies to any business or organization inspected by the HSE, with the following exceptions:
· Self-employed people who don’t put people at risk by their work
· Those who deliberately work with certain biological agents
· Those who are already paying fees to the HSE for their work through other arrangements.
If a company or organization disagrees with the HSE’s decision, then the duty holder has the right to dispute it. At present, any disputes are considered by a panel consisting of two members from the HSE and one independent person. However, the HSE is consulting with relevant stakeholders in a bid to make the process fully independent in future. The HSE has continually reviewed the dispute process and, following a recent application for a judicial review, believes that the time is now right to adopt a dispute process that is completely independent of the HSE.