There’s been a lot of discussion about Fee For Intervention recently. So what exactly is it all about?
The Health and Safety Executive’s Fee For Intervention (FFI) scheme was introduced in October 2012, and means that companies who break health and safety laws must pay a fee to cover HSE’s related costs – including for inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action. Since its introduction there has been a degree of debate over the implementation of FFI, and some commenters have suggested that is unfair that HSE acts as ‘police, prosecutor, judge and jury’ under the scheme.
In January the first Triennial Review of HSE, chaired by Martin Temple of the Engineering Employers Federation, reflected the concerns that many stakeholders have regarding FFI, stating that it “has been strongly linked to the need for HSE to fill the gap in its budget created by the reduction in government funding. This leads to an impression that HSE has an income target to achieve and, therefore, suspicion that Inspectors’ decisions about where and who to inspect, and what to do once there, will be based on the potential for raising income, rather than an analysis of the risk. For example, a fear was expressed that FFI would create a perverse incentive for inspectors to inspect established companies with ‘good credit’, to find ‘technical breaches’ and hence earn income.”
However, a report released in June by an independent panel asked to review FFI has noted that there is currently no viable alternative which could meet the aim of shifting the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from the taxpayer to those who break the law.
This review, chaired by Liverpool University professor of public policy Alan Harding, found no evidence that the scheme had influenced the direction of HSE’s enforcement policy. It also stated that while the scheme had not been popular, it had been “embedded effectively and applied consistently”, and that “generally, inspectors and dutyholders continue to work together in improving health and safety management”.
HSE Chair Judith Hackitt has stated that “Both HSE and the government believe it is right that those who fail to meet their legal health and safety obligations should pay our costs, and acceptance of this principle is growing”.
So, what are the implications for businesses?
FFI costs are not covered by workplace insurances and will need to be met from a company’s resources, which could potentially be an issue if budgetary allowance has not been made. Whilst this may be a concern, the priority is for businesses to ‘get their house in order’ and avoid this unnecessary expenditure by ensuring robust compliance with H&S guidelines and regulations, and demonstrating that health and safety is managed, organised and communicated with the same level of importance that is placed on other business management systems. Health and safety management systems should be dynamic, provide for goal setting, planning, and measuring performance, and should evolve to take into account changing business needs.
Over and above this, it is good practice to have a comprehensive protocol in place for handling inspections by the Health and Safety Executive, and to ensure that all staff know what their part in that protocol is.
Amalgamate can assist businesses in adopting and integrating the Health and Safety Executives Plan-Do-Check-Act model HSG65 which provides a framework for achieving and monitoring legislative and regulatory compliance.
For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org