In our previous blog we covered the practical aspect of the inspector being on your site and carrying out their inspection. We covered the importance of being prepared, the type of questions that might be asked and the formal and informal interviews process. In this blog we will move away slightly from the practical aspect of the visit and look at the HSE fee for intervention scheme.
It was introduced by the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012 and allows an HSE inspector to invoice you for time incurred dealing with any “material breaches” of legislation which they identify when on site. This is when, in the opinion of the inspector, there has been a breach of health and safety law which requires them to make a formal intervention through a letter, e-mail, instant visit report, notice or prosecution.
The current rate is £154 per hour and tends to increase every year. The same fee is charged regardless of the seniority of the inspector. This system means that a business could be hit with a significant bill even though the breach isn’t worthy of prosecution.
Note: It only applies to enforcement by the HSE, not by Local Authorities.
Note: Inspectors are obliged to apply internal HSE guidance when deciding whether there is a material breach. This is set out within their Enforcement Policy Statement and Enforcement Management Model. These documents are publicly available, so you can use them to check that an inspector has played fair and, if appropriate, to challenge what’s been done.
Effectively, individual employees shouldn’t find themselves with a bill even if they are guilty of a material breach of legislation, because fee for intervention does not apply to them. In the case of breaches by directors and other officers of a company, the guidance points towards the company being charged rather than the individual. This is because breaches of ss.36-37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 are excluded from charging on a technicality, and these sections are most commonly used to charge directors etc.
HSE fee for intervention doesn’t apply to the self-employed in circumstances where their actions have only put themselves at risk of injury, as opposed to putting others at risk, e.g. members of the public.
If you receive a visit from a local authority inspector then the FFI scheme does not apply. Once a material breach is found the charges from the HSE will apply from the beginning of the visit through to the point the problem is rectified.
The next blog in the series will provide you with 12 tips to use on the day of the inspector’s visit.