As most employers and employees have been dealing with the H&S implications of the Covid virus, it is possible that the recent increase in fees has passed you by. The HSE Fees for Intervention scheme have been increased again, showing that the Material Breach is here to stay.
The Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme is HSE’s cost recovery regime started back in 2012, and it is still with us. Duty holders who are compliant with the law, or where a breach is not material, will not be charged FFI for any work that HSE does with them. The scheme currently only applies to HSE enforcement, not enforcement by local authorities.
A material breach is when, in the opinion of the HSE inspector, there is or has been a contravention of health and safety law that requires them to issue notice in writing of that opinion to the duty holder.
Written notification of the contravention must be provided, and it can be in a number of forms:
- Instant inspection report
- Formal letter
- Improvement notice
- Prohibition notice
- Notice of prosecution
The notification must contain the law that the inspector’s opinion relates to; the reasons for their opinion; and notification that a fee is payable to HSE.
It is important to note that you do not have to be served with an improvement or prohibition notice to receive a material breach.
The new increased fees came in April 2020. The rate is £157 per hour, per inspector, but this could be more if the HSE have to seek an external specialist’s advice. Invoices are then issued every two months.
What do you need to do?
Company’s may need to nominate a specific person internally to manage FFI and deal with any appeals, as this must be done with 21 days.
It is important to:
- Ensure areas of investigation are relevant – requests for documents should be focused
- Ensure key people are interviewed – try to avoid more statements than necessary being taken
- Keep an internal record of who is interviewed and dates/ length of time an Inspector is on site each day
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