Consultation underway on “Fee for fault” proposal

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are inviting comments on their plans to recover the costs of their inspectors’ time when dealing with employers who have materially breached the law. The presumption is that the charging regime will come into being, and the consultation exercise is all about how this should happen and the appropriate level of charges.

Where an HSE intervention is found necessary, the employer could be liable for a fee of around £1,000 per day. Typically, it is suggested that an inspection that results in a letter being sent to the dutyholder would be charged at £750, but enforcement action such as an Improvement Notice would attract an average bill of £1,500. Should HSE have to carry out an investigation eg into a reportable injury, the employer’s cost would be in proportion to the time spent on the matter. In extreme cases such as major incidents, this could run into tens of thousands of pounds.

The consultation document gives examples of situation that inspectors may face, and the likely costs involved. So, if a visit finds that a machine is unguarded and a notice is served, HSE will look to recover costs for the initial visit, any follow-up visit to see that the employer has complied with the notice, and all the time spend on administration. Consultation ends on 14 October 2011 and comments can be made via http://consultations.hse.gov.uk/gf2.ti/f/15138/393957.1/pdf/-/CD235.pdf

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