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HSE says material breaches found in over quarter of inspections since introduction of FFI

15 March 2013

The Health & Safety Executive’s head of field operations, David Ashton, said that between a quarter and a third of inspections carried out by the HSE since its cost-recovery scheme came into force in October last year found a material breach of health and safety law. This in turn, resulted in a fee for intervention (FFI) on the duty-holders involved.

This was revealed in a presentation on the new scheme to delegates at the Institute of Safety and Health (IOSH) Conference on 26 February, according to SHP Online. The first run of invoices, which was initiated last month, has so far seen 1,400 bills sent out to errant duty-holders, meaning, said Ashton, “the money is really coming in”.

But he was keen to emphasise that FFI is not only – or even mainly – about the money. It has, he said, myriad other advantages for the improvement of health and safety management and compliance.

He explained: “The 35-per-cent cut to our budget announced in 2010 will take us up to the General Election in 2014, so resources are a significant element of the cost-recovery scheme.  If we ask, what is best for our customers, the answer is: an adequately resourced regulator. Thanks to FFI, we should be able to start recruiting new inspectors soon.”

Invoices are sent after two months, and the duty-holder has 30 days to pay. There is a formal disputes and queries mechanism, though Ashton said that of the invoices sent so far, the number of appeals has been “in single figures”.

The HSE Board heard at the end of January that after the first two months of operation, an approximate  breakdown of invoices showed that 10% of invoices were for values greater than £1,000 and 70% for less than £500.

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