A scheme designed to shift the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from the public purse to businesses who break the law has proven effective and should stay, an independent report has concluded.
The report recognised that inspectors at the Health and Safety Executive have implemented ‘Fee for Intervention’ consistently and fairly since it started in October 2012, and found no evidence to suggest that enforcement policy decisions had been influenced in any way by its introduction.
The independent panel which conducted the review was chaired by Alan Harding, professor of public policy at Liverpool University. Other participants were representatives of the GMB trade union, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Department for Work and Pensions.
According to the report’s authors, the professional approach adopted by HSE’s inspectors has ensured any challenges raised by the scheme during its first 18 months were minimised. The evidence suggests the concerns voiced about FFI have not manifested themselves to any significant or serious extent and that ‘generally inspectors and dutyholders continue to work together in improving health and safety management’.
Judith Hackitt, Chair of HSE, said:
“Both HSE and the Government believe it is right that those who fail to meet their legal health and safety obligations should pay our costs, and acceptance of this principle is growing. This review gives us confidence that FFI is working effectively and should be retained. We will continue to monitor the performance of Fee for Intervention to ensure it remains consistent and fair.”
The report, published by HSE today, along with associated research papers, concludes that “it [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 who break health and safety laws.”
It also concludes that:
- Fears that FFI would be used to generate revenue have proven to be unfounded.
- While not popular with some inspectors and dutyholders, it has been embedded effectively and applied consistently.
- There is no viable alternative that can achieve the same aims.
The report can be found on HSE’s website: www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/
Notes to editors
- Fee for Intervention (FFI) is HSE’s cost recovery regime implemented from 1 October 2012, under regulations 23 to 25 of The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012. These regulations put a duty on HSE to recover its costs for carrying out its regulatory functions from those found to be in ‘material breach’ of health and safety law. A material breach is where you have broken a health and safety law and the inspector judges this is serious enough for them to notify you in writing. This will either be a notification of contravention, an improvement or prohibition notice, or a prosecution. Dutyholders who are compliant with the law, or where a breach is not material, are not charged.
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk