European Health & Safety Consultants Ltd - News

HSE Fee for Intervention starts 1 October1st October 2012

From 1 October the HSE’s Fee For Intervention is in place.  We have detailed below a summary of what the impact will be and some of the questions that we have already been asked or that we have posed to the HSE ourselves.

What is fee for intervention (FFI)?
When an HSE Inspector inspects work activities and investigates incidents and complaints, they see material breaches of the law, you will have to pay a fee.

What does this mean to you?
Should the HSE visit you (planned or unannounced) and they find a material breach* of legislation they will charge you £124 p/hour.  The fee is based on the amount of time the Inspector has had to spend identifying the breach, helping you put it right, investigating and taking enforcement action.  If you comply with the law you won’t pay a fee.

When will it not apply?
If you comply with the law you won’t pay a fee.  FFI only currently applies to work carried out by HSE’s Inspectors so if you business is inspected for health and safety by another regulator eg local authority environmental health officers, it will not apply.  FFI will apply to all businesses and organisations inspected by the HSE except for –
•    Self-employed people, who don’t put people at risk by their work
•    Those who are already paying fees to the HSE for the work through other arrangements
•    Those who deliberately work with certain biological agents

How much will it cost?
The Inspector will record the time they take identifying the material breach, helping you to put it right, investigating and taking enforcement action.  This will also include other persons time eg writing up the letters etc.  Please note that should the Inspector wish to involve specialists to assist them, you will also pay for this.  The amount of time is multiplied by the FFI hourly rate.  The HSE have given some very approximate costs that a simple advice letter will cost £750 and a notice would expect to cost approximately £1,500, this is based on past information.

Is there a minimum charge?
The Inspectors will be taking note of their time spent to the nearest 15 minutes.

How will you pay?
You will receive an Invoice every 2 months and have 30 days to pay the Invoice.  There will be no VAT on the Invoice.  There will be a dedicated phone line to call for queries or assistance (you will not be charged for using this service).

Is there an appeal process?
Yes there is an appeal process.  There is a detailed approach that the HSE will take, but note that should you appeal you will also pay per hour for the appeal.

Other items we think you should be aware of
•    The HSE Inspectors will be given no targets nor incentives based on the time spent or funds raised etc.
•    Should an Inspector find a breach, you will be charged for the whole visit and associated costs, not just from the point when they identify the breach.

So, what should you do?
We feel that an HSE Inspector will make a judgment within the first 10 minutes, if not sooner on arrival to the site.  So, make sure that you are meeting H&S legislation.  Are you undertaking regular monitoring to check compliance?  Do your staff know what to do when an Inspector calls?  We call the first hour that an Inspector is on site as the “golden hour” as lots can go wrong or right in this hour.

Tips

  • Make sure that you have a plan in place.
  • If the Inspector’s visit is as a result of an accident, ensure you and your staff know your rights.  If being asked for information or being questioned.  Always ask the question “Do I have to consent to this?”
  • We would recommend involving legal personnel very early on with more serious accidents than you may have previously, as you want to keep the involvement of the HSE to a minimum to keep the costs down.
  • Ensure that whoever escorts or assists the HSE Inspector with any part of their visit, is fully familiar with your systems, procedures etc - otherwise you will be paying per hour for the Inspector to become familiar with them!
  • Best Tip (in our opinion) is to ensure that our Emergency Call out card is available to all those who require it.   We have attached this as a separate document for you to print/distribute as necessary.  Please note that the Consultant mobiles are provided for emergency use only and should not be made available for general use.

*A material breach is defined as where you have broken a health and safety law and the Inspector judges this is serious enough for them to notify you in writing.  For example a material breach would be not providing guards or effective safety devices to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery.

If you want to read more on why it is being introduced and other questions, then the short guidance can be found here - http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hse48.pdf

As some of you may also be aware you can now follow us on Twitter, where we post the most up to the minute news and stories.  You will also be able to find news on our website and via your secure web area.

Should you require any further assistance or advice with the above then please do not hesitate to contact us.  If you have any questions that aren’t answered above then please let us know and we will come back to you or add to this page.

Further Questions from our Clients

Is it possible to pass on costs incurred from the HSE to our Contractors/Sub-Contractors involved?

The HSE will be able (and very likely will) go after the Contractors as well.  For example on a Construction site, if the HSE find a material breach that is a breach by numerous Contractors they will go after all the Contractors not just the Principal Contractor.  You will not be able to impose your fine on your Contractor.  I have included the extract from the guidelines below to further assist.

"Material breaches involving multiple dutyholders

Where more than one dutyholder is responsible for a material breach, the inspector will apportion the time spent inspecting, investigating, or enforcing the breach, to the extent that the work done is reasonably attributable, to each dutyholder. The division of the overall time will be in accordance with the time spent regulating the material breach each has made.

In some circumstances, this will involve a dutyholder paying a fee for regulatory work done with the employees of another dutyholder. For example where the employees of one dutyholder are witnesses to a breach by another dutyholder, the dutyholder in breach will pay the fee, not the employer of the witnesses.

In some instances it may be that one dutyholder is in material breach while others are not. In these cases, only the costs that can be reasonably attributed to the dutyholder who is in material breach will be recovered. The other dutyholders will not be charged a fee.
"

 

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