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Is the HSE Fees for Intervention scheme being successful ?

02/09/2013

In October, it will be 12 months since the HSE launched its Fees for Intervention Scheme (see previous News Item www.threespires-safety.co.uk/news-article.asp). How successful has the scheme been and what’s the general feedback from businesses who have been visited since?

 

 

Exact, up to figures on how much the Scheme has raised are hard to come by, with figures only being released retrospectively after each two month period of HSE invoicing.The latest figures covering February and March 2013 show about £1.1m was raised in that period, making a total of over £2.6m for the first 6 months of the scheme. The increase in the latest period is believed to be down to a much higher ‘conversion rate’ between proactive inspections and chargeable time.

Rob Castledine, Director of Three Spires Safety says:

" We’ve had a number of experiences with the HSE over the last 6 months, largely as a result of proactive inspections and follow up visits for RIDDOR incidents. In the main, the Inspectors have been fair and understanding, but they are obviously well briefed and guided by those higher up in the HSE ,in terms of making it very clear that if any material breaches are found, then a charge is likely to be made. There seems to be very little leeway if the Inspector needs to write to the dutyholder or even return to undertake a revisit."

Whilst agreeing with the FFI Scheme in principal, in that the FFI is only meant to apply charges to those organisations who are breaching H&S law, Rob’s concern is the fact that defining a ‘material breachcan still be somewhat subjective and even in the best workplace, minor deficiencies might be noted.

"Our approach with clients is to meet the HSE face to face where there might be a possibility of follow up action. Where any concerns are raised by the HSE, we ensure that these are addressed there and then, or at least at the earliest opportunity, with a follow up email the same day. This might not work in every case, however the duty holder has nothing to lose !"

With regards appealing any costs, Rob continues;

" Whilst there’s always the option of disputing any FFI charge, the charge is often so nominal in the grand scheme of things (the current average is about £450.00), that the administrative cost to the client is likely to be more than the initial FFI charge. However, in certain cases, especially in relation to major accident investigations, careful scrutiny of HSE costs is strongly advisable. This is where dutyholders are likely to face a massive hit in HSE costs, on top of any future enforcement action that might be taken. We wait to see what the full impact of the FFI scheme will be and how organisations will deal with HSE charges following a major incidident."

 

In October, it will be 12 months since the HSE launched its Fees for Intervention Scheme (see previous News Item www.threespires-safety.co.uk/news-article.asp). How successful has the scheme been and what’s the general feedback from businesses who have been visited since?

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