Businesses Forced to Pick up Annual £60m Tab as HSE Budget Slashed

03 September 2012

 

The HSE has said it will share more of the costs with the businesses that create risks and plans to step-up unannounced inspections from October in its “Fee For Intervention” charging regime. An hourly rate of £124 per hour will be used by the HSE, for time spent by the HSE investigating contraventions of Health and Safety legislation. The HSE’s’ own timing exercises show that this will result in a bill of £750 for an inspection where a letter or email is sent detailing a contravention, whereas inspections that result in an enforcement notice will come with a hefty £1,500 bill.

Businesses that struggle to rectify could face a bill for a full-blown Health & Safety investigation, which could run into tens of thousands of pounds. The new regime is expected to generate £44million per year for the HSE – a move which, if also adopted by local authorities, could raise an additional £16million from UK businesses for breaches in Health & Safety.

The HSE, by its own admission, has not actively publicised the change in order to notify businesses – something for which it has come under heavy criticism. Alastair Hall, Head of Health & Safety at compliance provider, Citation plc, commented:

“This is the first time the HSE are charging businesses for finding breaches, and our intelligence tells us that most companies aren’t ready for this new regime at all. In addition to the new charging regime, the HSE has ceased operating its helpline, meaning the end of free one to one Health & Safety advice for business owners.

To put these new charges into context, we find an average of 24 contraventions when we do a first-stage Health & Safety visit on a new client, regardless of whether a business already has Health & Safety systems in place. When you look at the new charges from the HSE, many companies will already be exposed to a substantial level of financial risk without knowing it, which is why they need to act now.”

A spokesperson for the HSE said: “The only way businesses will incur costs is if they are in breach of health and safety law. If they rectify breaches quickly their costs will be lower, and the hourly rate of £124 per hour reflects the costs that the HSE incurs”.

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