What is the Fee For Intervention?
The Fee For Intervention scheme has now been running for five years. Under this Health and Safety Executive (HSE) charging scheme, if a business has committed a material breach of health and safety law then the HSE are able to recover their investigation costs directly from the business concerned. These costs include the costs of identifying the breach and identifying any remedial action that may be required. The FFI rate is currently £129 an hour and will cover all the time that the inspector spends visiting your site. You can also be charged for time spent preparing reports, getting specialist advice, talking to you and your workers after your visit and other relevant time spent.
What is a Material Breach?
According to the HSE, a material breach is something which an inspector considers serious enough that they need to formally write to the business requiring action to be taken to deal with the material breach. If an inspector has visited you and subsequently provides you with a notification of contravention (NoC) then you will be liable to pay a FFI.
What Can You Do to Avoid FFI Charges?
The best way to avoid any FFI charges is to ensure that you monitor the health and safety in your organisation on a regular basis to ensure you are fully compliant with the law and that employees and third parties do not have any grounds to lodge a complaint with the HSE. The List of Essential and Recommended Health and Safety Documents can be used as a starting point to review your health and safety documentation.
Changes to Process of Disputing FFI Scheme Invoices
If a business has been issued with a FFI invoice they have 30 days to pay it. A business can query all of the invoice or a particular part of the invoice and a specialist review panel will consider the matter. The three person review panel previously contained two members of the HSE and one independent member and was criticised for effectively being both “prosecutor and judge”. Consequently, from September 2017, the panel is now formed of three independent members; two who have health and safety experience and the third being a lawyer to act as chair. In addition, HSE inspectors will have to provide the querying business with full details of the material breach that they believe has occurred and of their investigations.
Going forward the availability of full disclosure by the HSE should make for a more straightforward process for a business wishing to dispute a FFI invoice.
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute
legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific