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HSE settles FFI adjudication case before High Court hearing

06 March 2017

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has settled a judicial review of its FFI cost recovery scheme out of court before a planned High Court hearing on 8 March 2017. Facilities management company OCS Group brought the case to review the arbitration process for the HSE’s Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme, under which charges are levied on companies for inspections and investigations.

FFI, introduced by HSE in October 2012, was designed to move the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from the public purse to companies themselves. In 2015, the average cost of an invoice issued under the FFI scheme was above £700, generating revenue of £14.7m, an increase of 40% on initial charge levels.

The review was brought by OCS Group and relates to a notice of contravention it received from HSE in August 2014 over staff risking Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) when using strimmers at Heathrow Airport. OCS was subsequently fined £2,306, but disputed the HSE case against it.

Central to OCS’s claim was that the dispute should be determined independently and impartially, and not by a dispute panel with two of its three members appointed by HSE, which is how the system currently operates.

Quoted in SHP Online, Ian Goodliffe, director of health, safety, quality and environmental at OCS Group, said the decision to ask for a judicial review was not about opposing the idea of FFI, but to address concerns the company had about the independence, fairness and transparency of the dispute process in which HSE effectively acted as prosecution, judge and jury.

HSE has now agreed to introduce a revised process for determining disputes on or before 1 September 2017 which addresses these concerns.

HSE has also withdrawn the notice of contravention in which it alleged failures in the management of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) by OCS Group staff.


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