UK's Fee for Intervention Process May Become Fully Independent

Costs are recovered where there has been a material breach of health and safety law; a material breach is defined as one where a business or organization has broken the law and the inspector considers it serious enough to notify them in writing.

The Health and Safety Executive announced last week that it is seeking comments on proposals to make its cost recovery scheme dispute process fully independent. The Fee for Intervention (FFI) process was introduced in October 2012 to shift the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from the government to businesses that break the law, as a way to ensure the cost burden of HSE intervention is picked up by violators and not taxpayers.

Costs are recovered where there has been a material breach of health and safety law; a material breach is defined as one where a business or organization has broken the law and the inspector considers it serious enough to notify them in writing.

"If an inspector identifies serious health and safety failings in the workplace about which they need to write to the dutyholder, then that dutyholder has to pay the costs of the HSE visit. If the inspector simply issues verbal advice there is no charge. If there is disagreement on HSE's decision the dutyholder can dispute it," the agency explained. "Until now, disputes were considered by a panel which consisted of two members from HSE and one independent person. However, after reviewing the current process HSE will consult with relevant stakeholders with a view to making the process fully independent."

"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," an agency spokesperson said.

A guide to the FFI process is available on HSE's website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/index.htm.

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