28 Feb 2017
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that it is to consult on proposals to make its cost recovery scheme dispute process fully independent. The Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme was introduced in October 2012, with the aim being, “To shift the cost of regulating workplace Health and Safety from the public purse to businesses which break the law”. In terms of the FFI scheme, if an inspector identifies serious Health and Safety failings in the workplace about which they need to write to the duty holder, then that duty holder has to pay the costs of the HSE visit. The HSE has emphasised that costs will be recovered where there has been a material breach of Health and Safety law. A material breach is where a business or organisation has broken the law, and the inspector considers it serious enough to notify them in writing. If the inspector simply issues verbal advice, there is no charge. If there is disagreement on the HSE’s decision, the duty holder can dispute it. Until now, disputes were considered by a panel which consisted of two members from the HSE, and one independent person. However, after reviewing the current process, the HSE says it will consult with relevant stakeholders with a view to making the process fully independent. In May 2017, the dispute process of the FFI scheme will be the subject of a full judicial review hearing in the High Court. The review is being brought by a company in connection with a notification of contravention served by the HSE regarding its management of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Commenting on the changes, a spokesperson for the HSE said, “HSE has always kept the dispute process under review and following a recent application for a judicial review, we believe the time is right to move to a dispute process which is completely independent of HSE.”
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