Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Shifting the Burden

HSE will recover all of the costs it incurs following action taken helping businesses to comply where they are breaking health and safety law.
Those who comply with the law will not pay a penny as a result of an HSE inspection and there will be no fees in relation to purely technical breaches.

How is HSE planning to share more of its costs with those that create the risks?
HSE is introducing ‘fee for intervention’ for all costs of an inspection or investigation where a business is in material breach of the law.
Why should businesses have to pay for HSE involvement?
It is fair and reasonable that businesses that are found to have broken health and safety laws should pay the costs incurred by HSE in helping them to put matters right rather than the public purse.
‘Fee for intervention’ will also help create a level playing field for business. Employers who cut corners and put the workers and the public at risk should not enjoy a competitive advantage over those who invest in doing the right thing. ‘Fee for intervention’ may act as an incentive to employers who do not meet basic health and safety standards. Similar schemes are already in operation by other regulators in Britain, including the Environment Agency, Natural England and Ofwat (the Water Services Regulation Authority).

What is a ‘material breach’?
HSE is proposing to recover costs from interventions at which a material breach is found. A material breach is where, in the opinion of an HSE inspector, there has been a breach of health and safety law that requires HSE’s intervention in supporting the business in putting matters right.
For example, at its simplest, failure to properly display the health and safety law poster in an otherwise well- run firm would normally be dealt with by verbal advice, and costs would not be recovered. However, inadequate guarding of machinery, which could result in significant injury to employees, would result in costs being recovered.
What is the proposed hourly rate?
The proposed current estimate for ’fee for intervention’ is £133 per hour. If non-HSE specialist support is required to assist with HSE’s activity, the dutyholder would pay the costs of specialist support. Fees are exempt from VAT.
How will HSE collect the money owed for these fees?
HSE will invoice businesses and expect them to pay within 30 days. To assist them with cash flow and accounting arrangements, it is expected that invoices will be issued on a monthly basis as costs are incurred rather than collating all costs into one invoice issued when all work has been completed. If they do not pay, normal credit control action will then be taken, ie a series of reminders, a final reminder and then recovery through the courts.

When will these measures come into force?
The intention is ‘fee for intervention’ to be introduced from as early as April 2012.

Make sure you are complying - contact Occhnet on info@occhnet.co.uk or www.occhnet.co.uk for professional advice don't end up paying the price!

Monday, 1 August 2011

HSE to Charge for Inspections

HSE may charge £133 an hour for inspectors' work

The HSE expects to charge organisations £133 an hour for inspectors’ work identifying and helping remedy minor breaches.

HSE programme director Gordon Macdonald said the provisional hourly rate for so-called fee-for-fault charging will be introduced in April 2012, following a consultation exercise due to start later this month. MacDonald admitted that cost recovery was controversial, but said charging will definitely go ahead; the consultation will canvas opinions on the details of the scheme.