Aegis Offers Firms Cost Effective Alternative To Imminent HSE Fee Scheme

Specialists at Preston health and safety firm Aegis are encouraging organisations to avoid the fees being introduced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by booking a site safety inspection.

The HSE has confirmed that its cost recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI), will start on 1 October 2012 subject to Parliamentary approval of the proposed legislation.

This legislation will require the HSE to recover its costs for carrying out its regulatory functions from those found to be in material breach of health and safety law.

The government and the HSE consider that it is right that businesses and organisations that break health and safety laws should pay for the HSE’s time in putting matters right, investigating and taking enforcement action. Currently this is paid for by the government.

Law-abiding businesses will be free from costs and will not pay a fee.

A material breach is when, in the opinion of the HSE Inspector, there has been a contravention of health and safety law that is serious enough to require them to notify the person in material breach of that opinion in writing.

Adam Kaley, commercial director at Aegis, explained: “The HSE inspector will record the time they have spent identifying the material breach, conducting their investigation, helping the firm to put it right and taking enforcement action. This could include time spent carrying out visits, including all the time on site during which the material breach was identified, writing letters, notices, reports, taking statements and getting specialist support for complex issues. This total amount of time will be multiplied by an hourly rate to give the amount the firm has to pay.

“The proposed FFI hourly rate for 2012/13 is £124 for all the time spent on a case.”

He continued: “Aegis has a team of knowledgeable and experienced health and safety professionals to conduct site safety inspections and audits, including a former HSE Principal Inspector. We can visit a site and provide constructive feedback to clients on their performance with regard to health and safety regulations, in most cases at a cost of much less than £124 an hour.”

Aegis claims that this is a cost effective way of identifying health and safety issues and that by adopting a proactive approach to resolving health and safety concerns themselves, businesses are much less likely to have breaches of health and safety laws identified by HSE Inspectors, thus avoiding FFI charges.

Adam Kaley believes that FFI will encourage businesses to comply with health and safety regulations in the first place or put matters right quickly when they don’t.

He added: “It should also discourage unscrupulous firms who undercut their competitors by not complying with the law and putting people’s lives at risk.”

Gordon MacDonald, HSE’s programme director, said: “We have worked with industry representatives in shaping the final form of the scheme and the published guidance explains how the scheme will work and what businesses can do to comply with the law and avoid incurring a fee.

“It is right that those who break the law should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right – and not the public purse. Firms who manage workplace risks properly will not pay.”