HSE cost-recovery confirmed at £124 per hour

It has been announced that The Health & Safety Executive’s cost-recovery scheme, known as Fee for Intervention (FFI), will commence on 1st October, subject to Parliamentary approval.

First of all, there is no need to be alarmed as compliant and law abiding Organisations and businesses will not pay a penny and that the Executive will only recover costs from duty-holders that are found to be in material breach of health and safety law.

First of all an important principle has been established in that it is right that those who break the law should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right, and not the public purse. Firms who manage workplace risks properly will not pay.”

Detailed advice on the scheme’s operation is now available in a newly published guidance document on the HSE’s website, so if you want to know more, try this helpful link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/index.htm

The guidance includes a number of examples of material breaches but does not cover every scenario where FFI might apply. It also explains how the scheme will operate in accordance with the HSE’s existing Enforcement Management Model (EMM) and the Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS).

The new guidance confirms that the fee payable by duty-holders found to be in material breach of the law is £124 per hour, except where work is contracted to the Health and Safety Laboratory, or a specialist third party, in which instances the actual cost to the HSE of the service will be recovered from the duty-holder. The fee includes all work that is needed to identify a material breach and all work to ensure that the breach is remedied.

FFI will apply when an inspector:

  • identifies a contravention of health and safety law;
  • is of the opinion that the contravention is serious enough to require written notification (i.e. it is a material breach); and
  • notifies the person contravening the law of their opinion, in writing, by a notification of contravention, Improvement or Prohibition Notice, or prosecution.

Invoices will generally be sent to duty-holders every two months, and payment is due to the HSE within 30 days of the date of the invoice.

With disputes, all initial inquiries will be treated as a query for which no fee is payable. However, if duty-holders are not satisfied with the response to their query, they can formally dispute the invoice by writing to the HSE and setting out the specific reasons why they do not believe the charge is valid. A fee is payable for handling disputes.

Existing arrangements for making an appeal against an Improvement or Prohibition Notice remain unchanged.

Other than knowing the hourly rate will be £124, businesses will have no way of knowing what the final bill will come to until the very end of the case. What’s more, there appears to be no room for discussion or negotiations until this stage either, as the first time that a business can raise an objection is when they receive the invoice for the investigation. Ultimately, it is smaller businesses that are going to suffer as a result of the FFI regulation.”