The Inspector’s FeeCategory: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards | Published on: Apr 26, 2013 | Updated: Dec 12, 2016 Read more: Health & Safety
The Health and Safety Executive’s cost-recovery scheme came into force on 1st October last year. Since then, up to one third of inspections have resulted in the inspector deciding that there was a material breach of health and safety law. The inspector then imposed a fee for intervention (FFI) on the employers involved.
The HSE’s head of field operations, David Ashton, revealed at the IOSH conference on 26th February that 1,400 bills had so far been sent out to errant employers (SHP Online).
The FFI cost recovery scheme was introduced after the HSE had a 35-per-cent cut to its budget in 2010. The aim was for the HSE to recoup some of its costs and improve resources in the light of the cutbacks.
However, Mr Ashton said that FFI was not just about the money and he saw two significant benefits:
- The HSE would be able to recruit new inspectors soon.
- There was a `multiplying effect’. Employers did not want to experience a visit by the HSE followed by a bill so this was a spur to good behaviour.
He added that the HSE will not go looking for breaches, easy targets or deep pockets and that there were no financial targets for inspectors.
So this is not too bad is it? If you are complying with the law, you have nothing to fear. However, I know of three recent cases where the employer felt that the HSE inspector was `looking’ for a material breach before they left. This is the problem, a `material breach’ is open to the interpretation of the Inspector. A guard may not be on a machine, but was the machine being used or in action? Furthermore, there may be no `targets’ for Inspectors, but there will no doubt be some sort of kudos for fees raised.
There is little doubt that HSE Inspectors are going to raise a lot more money through FFI. If you ensure that you are complying with H&S law in your workplace then this will reduce the chance of a fee being charge if the Inspector calls on you. If the assessment of the material breach takes proper account the safety and health risks, then it is unlikely you will be charged, but if an inspector is `looking’ for a breach, he will find one, especially in a large or complex working environment.
There have only been a small number of appeals in the 1,400 FFIs so far, so perhaps judgements have been fair. I am sure we will have more feedback on this.
At Arinite we are passionate about improving health and safety performance and workplace safety and ensuring that material breaches are avoided, so perhaps this is another reason for considering a partnership with us.Contact us
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Bryan Richards 26th April 2013
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