CONTRACTORS ARE WORRIED THAT HSE INSPECTORS ARE CONCENTRATING MORE ON CHARGING FOR SPOTTING SAFETY BREACHES THAN ISSUING ADVICE. CLIENTS SHOULD WORRY TOO
The innovative Fees for Intervention (FFI) scheme came into force last year on the 1st October. Fee for Intervention (FFI) is HSE’s cost recovery regime implemented from 1 October 2012, under regulations 23 to 25 of The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012. These Regulations put a duty on HSE to recover its costs (at a rate of £124 per hour) 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 is or has been a contravention of health and safety law that requires them to issue notice in writing of that opinion to the duty holder. The scheme means that those in breach have to pay charges of £124 an hour if they are notified in writing by the HSE that it has found a ”˜material breach’ on one of their sites. It is reported that an international law firm has carried out a survey into how life for its clients has changed since the scheme was introduced. They are reported as saying: “The overwhelming feeling from a national client survey is that the dynamic around HSE visits has changed dramatically, with organisations complaining of a ”˜double whammy’ in that HSE inspectors are quick to identify a material breach, yet the advice they have provided to organisations in the past is frequently less available. The survey also showed that fewer than 50 per cent of those who oversaw the HSE visit in the workplace had heard of FFI prior to the inspector turning up on site.” Organisations must ensure that those in key positions on their sites, not just in the board room, understand the implications of FFI, are given the resources to ensure compliance and know how to keep costs to a minimum in the event of a material breach being found.