Measures shifting the cost of health and safety regulation from the public purse to businesses that breach health and safety rules came into effect on 1st October 2012.
The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulation 2012 will place a duty on HSE inspectors (who inspect work activities and investigate incidents of complaint) to recover their costs directly from businesses who are deemed to be in 'material breach' of health and safety law. (A material breach of health and safety law is any breach that is deemed serious enough by an inspector to warrant notification in writing).
Fees for Intervention (FFI) will come based on the amount of time that the HSE inspector has had to spend identifying the material breach, helping businesses to put it right, investigating and taking enforcement action. Fees will be charged at an hourly rate, being £124 for 2012/2013, and will be payable within 30 days of receiving the invoice.
FFI will apply to all businesses that are inspected by HSE except:
- Businesses that are already paying fees to HSE for the work through other arrangements and
- Businesses that work with certain biological agents.
It is estimated that these fees will cost offenders £43 million a year once in place. It can be seen that FFI could result in a significant cost for businesses. In order to protect budgets it is crucial that priority is given to HSE compliance.
A dilemma for business is whether our not to budget for such costs? To do so will surely deliver the wrong message, namely that the organisation is budgeting for failure. On the other hand all businesses should have some budget for unexpected events. That might need to be carefully reviewed.