HSE Fee for Intervention (FFI)
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) fee for intervention became effective from 1 October 2012, under regulations 23 to 25 of the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012. The regulation put a duty on HSE to recover its costs for carrying out its regulatory functions from those found to be in breach of the health and safety law.
HSE and the government believe it is right that businesses which break health and safety laws should pay for the HSE's time in putting matters right, investigating and taking enforcement action. Before FFI was introduced, this was paid for from the public purse.
What is material breach?
Under FFI, the Health and Safety Executive will only recover the costs of its regulatory work from dutyholders that are 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 dutyholder.
Written notification from the HSE inspector may be by notification or contravention, an improvement or prohibition notice, or a prosecution, and must include the following:
- The law that the inspector's opinion relates to;
- The reasons for their opinion; and
- Notification that a fee is payable to the HSE.
The written notification should also make it clear which contraventions are material breaches.
When deciding whether a dutyholder is in material breach of the law, HSE inspectors must apply this guidance and the principles of HSE's existing enforcement decision making frameworks. Where alternative law, which is not the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 or law made under that Act may apply to a particular situation, inspectors must apply the most appropriate law relevant to the whole circumstance of the contravention.
How much is the fee?
At the time of its introduction on 1 October 2012, the fee payable by dutyholders found to be in material breach of the law is £124.00 per hour. The total amount payable will be based on the amount of time it takes HSE to identify and conclude its regulatory action, in relation to the material breach which will include associated office work, multiplied by the relevant hourly rate. This will also include part hours.
HSE Fees For Intervention (FFI) - Figures Published for Second Run of Invoices
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has published figures for the second run of invoices for the period 1 December 2012 to 31 January 2013 for monies recovered through Fees For Intervention (FFI). They reveal that around £857,000 was recovered through FFI, which is around a £100,000 increase on the previous period. The HSE issued almost 500 more invoices than in the previous invoice period amounting, to a total of 1,807.
These were as a result of 3,062 proactive inspections carried out in the second period, and 60 percent of those resulted in an invoice being raised. Manufacturing accounted for 43 per cent of the raised invoices and was the highest sector followed by construction at 30 percent.
The figure is expected to be significantly higher in the third period due to the blitz on construction sites carried out in that period; this resulted in 1 in 5 sites being issued with an invoice. The average invoice was valued at £474, which equates to around four hours of the inspectors time.
The HSE has previously stated that firms who comply with the requirements of the law will have nothing to fear from the introduction of Fees For Intervention, as they can only raise an invoice as a result of a material breach. As a result, it is imperative that companies have robust safety management systems in place to avoid these and other associated costs. It is also extremely important for organisations to ensure their employees receive a high standard of training in health and safety so that they are more aware of the dangers that face them in the workplace, and allows them to work in a manner which will reduce the chances of an accident occurring to themselves or a colleague.
HSE Fees for Intervention (FFI) - One Year On
A year on from the introduction of Fee for Intervention and figures recently released suggest the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recovered costs of over £5.5m from UK companies. In the first six months alone the HSE issued 5,766 invoices at an average of £464 a time (£2.67m). Statistics reveal that the manufacturing sector received 38% of the total invoices followed by the Construction industry with 36% and Agriculture receiving only 2%.
Worryingly, fewer than half of those surveyed recently were even aware of FFI prior to the inspector knocking at the door. This probably won't come as a surprise to many health and safety trainers who have witnessed the number of perplexed looks when they have mentioned the subject to their delegates in class. This is more than a little odd perhaps when you consider the financial impact upon any organisation with insufficient health and safety measures in place. Furthermore, the HSE are committed to reviewing the effectiveness of FFI which will take place at some point between now and October 2015 (3 years since the introduction) with January 2014 being suggested as a possible date.
Whilst we as trainers provide factual and balanced information regarding the topic often producing good debate both for and against the FFI in its current form, it doesn't take many conversations with other health and safety professionals or to read the H&S press to discover that many are concerned with the impact the issue will have on the future relationship and co-operation between the HSE and organisations, particularly with regard to advice and guidance.
Unsurprisingly inspectors are looking at covering the following general issues when they visit:
- Health risks such as exposure to harmful substances such as dust, chemicals, noise or vibration which may lead to permanent disabling effects or death.
- Safety risks where the potential effects are immediate due to traumatic injury, for example contact with moving machinery or falls from height.
- Welfare breaches - Requirements that are either part of the controls required for health risks, or are a basic right of people in a modern society.
- Management of health and safety risks considering the capability to manage health and safety risks to a sustainable acceptable level.
Some excellent examples for each of the above categories are supplied within the document HSE47.
We recommend that you become proactive in your approach to any potential HSE visit. This would include an action plan to indentify that policy and regulations are current and up to date, to include the responsible person(s) have an agreed timeline to review all policies and update and improve where necessary.