MP’s are campaigning to expand the HSE Fees for Intervention charges to local authorities. Thereby resulting in a system whereby any business across the UK can be charged £129 per hour for the time of an HSE officer or Environmental Health Officer enforcing health and safety breaches found on site.
MP’s want the government to extend the fee for intervention (FFI) charging scheme for safety and health breaches to Safety Inspectors and EHO’s in local authorities as an incentive to improve the consistency and level of enforcement activity.
The FFI scheme was introduced in October 2012. The purpose was for the HSE to charge for their time by the hour for the costs of helping to put matters right, including, investigating and taking enforcement action in instances where companies break health and safety laws.
The fee may include the inspector’s time:
- at your business or workplace
- preparing reports
- getting specialist advice
- talking to you after the visit
- talking to your workers
The fee can vary depending on:
- how long the original visit was
- the time the inspector spent helping you put things right
- the time it took the inspector to investigate your case
- any time we spend on taking action against you
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health’s latest report notes that FFI has “proven effective in achieving the overarching policy aim of shifting the cost of health and safety regulation from the public purse to those businesses that break health and safety laws”.
The report says cuts in council spending on public services since 2010 have been matched by a significant decline in health and safety enforcement by councils. The number of proactive inspections by local authority environmental health officers (EHOs) fell by 97% between 2010 and 2016. Enforcement notices issued by EHOs have declined by 64% and the number of EHOs almost halve to 543 in the 380 district and unitary authorities in Great Britain over the past seven years.
What does this mean for your business?
For six years HSE enforced businesses like factories, farms, schools, nursing homes and building sites have, unfortunately, been all too familiar with the FFI scheme being imposed on their business. Now the local authority enforced businesses like hotels, restaurants, care homes, offices, shops, and leisure premises may soon face the same charges. The downside to the scheme is the HSE focus has shifted to finding contraventions to generate FFI revenue rather than helping businesses to improve. Now government budgets for Environmental Health departments have been slashed so heavily; it is a matter of time before local authority enforced businesses also fall under the same scrutiny. Furthermore, as revenue is generated through this scheme, further jobs may be created for the inspectors with the resultant impact of increased business enforcement!
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