The introduction of the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012 represented a far reaching change to the law in October 2012.
The full implications of the new regulations are still to be appreciated. However, it is clear that it is going to have a significant effect on those businesses that are heavily regulated by the HSE, including businesses in the construction and manufacturing sector.
The HSE now has the power to charge businesses that they inspect if they are found to be in material breach of health and safety legislation (referred to as a “fee for intervention”). Many questions remain in relation to the implementation of the fee for intervention (“FFI”) scheme (not least, what is a “material breach”?). If a HSE representative inspects your premises, FFI should always be at the forefront of your mind.
What Will Happen?
Many business’s health and safety procedures are regulated by the HSE. The HSE will carry out regular inspections, either in accordance with their general inspection duties or as a result of a complaint. When such an inspection is undertaken, the HSE will consider all health and safety matters. The HSE will attempt to identify breaches, and once those breaches are identified, will establish whether those breaches are material or not.
There is no set time for which HSE Inspectors must stay on site. HSE Inspectors can stay on site for as long as think is necessary for their inspection.
If a material breach is identified in the opinion of the HSE Inspector, the Inspector will provide the business with a Notice of Contravention (provided no Prohibition Notice or Improvement Notice has been served). The HSE will also provide the business with an invoice – where the inspector’s time will be charged at a rate of £124 per hour, regardless of the size of the business.
How Can We Help?
Our experience in health and safety law ensures that we have a detailed knowledge of what does, and does not, constitute a material breach. Therefore, we can advise you in relation to making a query or dispute of the invoice, should it be required.
HSE Inspectors are guided to charge for the amount reasonably incurred in investigation of the material breach. Through our experience, we can advise you in relation to whether the time spent on the matter by the HSE should be considered to be reasonably incurred. Again, should it be considered that the invoice is incorrect in that regard, we can advise you on querying or disputing the invoice.
We can you help you consider the effect that accepting the Notice of Contravention (and paying the invoice) may have upon the business. Should criminal or civil proceedings be commenced following the payment of the invoice, it may be suggested that a material breach of health and safety legislation has already been accepted by the business.
Who Should You Contact?
If you have received a Notice of Contravention or an invoice in relation to health and safety breaches, please contact Cairo Nickolls on 0121 214 5416. Alternatively, you can also get in touch online.
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