The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently confirmed that its cost-recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI), will start on 1 October 2012. Business owners need to start taking a more proactive approach now.
FFI aims to recover costs from those who break health and safety laws for the time and effort HSE spends helping to put matters right such as, investigating, writing reports and taking enforcement action.
As well as confirming the start date for the scheme, the HSE has also published initial guidance explaining how the scheme will work in practice, along with examples illustrating how it will be applied. FFI will apply whenever an inspector:
- identifies a contravention of health and safety law;
- believes the contravention is serious enough to require written notification (ie it is a material breach); and
- notifies the person believed to be contravening the law, in writing, by a notification of contravention, Improvement or Prohibition Notice or prosecution.
The new guidance confirms that the hourly fee payable by employers found to be in material breach of the law is £124 per hour. Apart from knowing the hourly rate, 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, because the first time that a business can raise an objection is when they receive the invoice for the investigation
Clearly, businesses that want to protect their position and minimise charges should speak to a health and safety consultant today, because prevention is significantly cheaper than the cure.
- Chris Hall is the managing partner at health and safety consultancy Lighthouse Risk Services, specialising in advice to small and medium sized business in the UK.