The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has recently announced that it is to open a consultation process on proposals for making its cost recovery scheme dispute process entirely independent.
First introduced in October 2012 and reviewed by an independent panel of experts in 2014, the intention behind the scheme, better known as Fee for Intervention (FFI), was to place the cost of workplace health and safety regulation on businesses (that flout the law) rather than the public purse - ensuring that the financial burden of HSE intervention was met by those companies rather than the taxpayer.
Under Fee for Intervention, if the HSE inspector identifies serious health and safety failings during the course of a visit (which they need to write to the duty holder about), then that duty holder now has to pay the costs of the HSE visit. The issuing of verbal advice does not incur a cost and if there is a disagreement with the HSE’s decision, then this can be disputed. Costs will only be recovered in cases resulting in a material breach of health and safety law, or where a business has broken the law and the inspector considers it serious enough to notify them in writing.
Up until now, such disputes have been reviewed by a panel consisting of two members from the HSE as well as one independent person. On reviewing this current process however, the HSE intends to consult with stakeholders with a view to making the process fully independent from the HSE.
Brenig Moore, Technical Director at Astutis commented:
“Since its' inception, I have been concerned that the FFI appeals process was not in accordance with the better regulation requirements of transparency and accountability and therefore welcome the new measures. Hopefully the proposed fully independent replacement process will provide such assurances for employers.”
A spokesperson for the HSE said:
“HSE has always kept the dispute process under review and following a recent application for a judicial review we believe the time is right to move to a dispute process which is completely independent of HSE.”
A full guide to the Fee for Intervention scheme is available on HSE’s website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/index.htm