Under a new set of rules the Health and Safety Executive are looking to recoup money from non-compliant companies who breach Health and Safety rules in the United Kingdom.
By 2014 the Health and Safety Executive will have had to reduce its budget by approximately £80–85m a year. This cannot be achieved by administrative savings and increased charging alone, which will leave the remainder to be met through cuts to the service it provides.
Funding for the Health and Safety Executive has been drastically cut by over £40 million by the current government and one of the ways they can try and recoup some of the last funding is by charging companies for any breaches of safety. This could include any time spent on the companies premises investigating breaches of safety, and also any additional visits in respect of breaches of health and safety legislation. In addition the cuts are likely to lead to an increase in the number of deaths, injuries and illnesses. These will have a real impact on those at work as well as their families and dependants.
This may have a significant impact on businesses which don’t have their health and safety in order. It is yet to be seen whether this will result in more visits by HSE inspectors, but the purpose of the legislation is clear, it is to act as a revenue generator for the HSE operations.
Businesses should be looking at getting their house in order to protect the welfare of their staff and to avoid any unnecessary penalty charges.
The penalty charges are called Fee For Intervention (FFI) and came into effect as of October 1st 2012. A material breach is of health and safety law is decide by the HSE inspector and occurs when a written notice is issued to that particular business in relation to the material breach. Under The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break health and safety laws are liable for recovery of HSE’s related costs, including inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action.
The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Fees for Intervention (FFI) scheme, has made around £857,000 for the Government, in the second invoice run, from 1 December 2012 to 31 January 2013.
There are three types of material breach that can result in a written notice being issued:
- Improvement notice
- Prohibition notice
- A prosecution
This particular legislation applies to all businesses where the HSE are the enforcing authority. It is worth businesses noting that HSE inspectors can enter a companies premises at any time without any notice being given (unannounced inspections).
The fees payable by businesses found to be in breach are £124 per hour.
Despite the waste management sector being high on the HSE priority list, given the sector’s high fatality rate, only 63 invoices were issued against businesses in the water and waste management sector, which could demonstrate either a high level of compliance in the sector or a low inspection rate.
Firms can protect themselves from FFI charges by having suitable health and safety policies and procedures and also health and safety training.