Between a quarter and a third of inspections carried out by the HSE since its cost-recovery scheme came into force in October last year found a material breach of health and safety law, resulting in a fee for intervention (FFI) on the duty-holders involved. A material breach is where you have broken a health and safety law and the inspector judges this is serious enough for them to notify you in writing.
This was revealed by the regulator’s head of field operations, David Ashton, in his presentation on the new scheme to delegates at the IOSH Conference (26 February). The first run of invoices, which was initiated last month, has so far seen 1400 bills sent out to errant duty-holders, meaning, said Ashton, “the money is really coming in”. But he was keen to emphasise that FFI is not only – or even mainly – about the money. It has, he said, myriad other advantages for the improvement of health and safety management and compliance.
So, what could these advantages be? Are there any?
The HSE and the government believe it is right that businesses that break health and safety laws should pay for HSE’s time in putting matters right, investigating and taking enforcement action. Before FFI was introduced, this was paid for from the public purse. The HSE go on to say “FFI will also encourage businesses to comply in the first place or put matters right quickly when they don’t. It will also discourage businesses who think that they can undercut their competitors by not complying with the law and putting people at risk.”
Invoices are sent after two months, and the duty-holder has 30 days to pay. There is a formal disputes and queries mechanism, though Mr Ashton revealed that of the 1400 invoices sent so far, the number of appeals has been “in single figures”.
Answering another question, Mr Ashton said the scheme in this format is not going to be extended to local authorities because, with 400+ to cover, “it would not be practical”. He concluded: “I think FFI is here to stay and, some years from now, we will be glad we did it.” I’m not so sure we will be but I guess we will just have to wait and see…..
Source: SHP online
More information at: HSE: Fee for Intervention