HSE to proceed with controversial cost recovery scheme
London – The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to proceed with its controversial Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme, which will start on 1 Oct, subject to Parliamentary approval.
FFI is intended to recover costs from companies who commit a ‘material breach of UK health and safety laws. It is meant to reflect the time and effort HSE spends helping to put matters right, such as, investigating and taking enforcement action.
A material breach is defined as a situation that is serious enough to require the HSE to notify the person in writing that they are in breach of HSE regulation. In terms of fees, the Executive has proposed an FFI hourly rate of £124 for 2012/13.
“FFI was developed in consultation with representatives from industry,” said the HSE. “Law-abiding businesses will be free from costs and will not pay a fee.”
But the plan has raised concerns among industry groups – among them the Chemical Business Association, which has previously warned: “Fee for Intervention’ could fundamentally change industry’s perception of HSE: from a regulator respected for its impartiality to an organisation focused on the generation of additional revenue.”
Confirming the date for the start of FFI and publishing the guidance will give dutyholders clarity and certainty about the start of the scheme and what they can expect, according to Gordon MacDonald, HSE’s programme director.
“We have worked with industry representatives in shaping the final form of the scheme and the published guidance explains how the scheme will work and what businesses can do to comply with the law and avoid incurring a fee,” said MacDonald.
“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.”
- Government regulations put a duty on HSE to recover its costs for carrying out its regulatory functions from those found to be in material breach of health and safety law.
- A material breach is, when in the opinion of the HSE inspector, there has been a contravention of health and safety law that is serious enough to require them to notify the person in material breach of that opinion in writing.
-HSE and the government believe it is right that businesses and organisations that break health and safety laws should pay for HSE’s time in putting matters right, investigating and taking enforcement action. Without FFI, this is paid for from the public purse.
- The proposed Fee for Intervention hourly rate for 2012/13 is £124.
- FFI is intended to encourage businesses and organisations to comply in the first place or put matters right quickly when they don’t. It will also discourage those who undercut their competitors by not complying with the law and putting people at risk.