The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) operates a ‘fee for intervention’ scheme to recover its costs when businesses are found not to be compliant with the law in that a material breach is noted. Current fees payable by duty holders, including employers and the self-employed, amount to £129 per hour.
The scheme was introduced to incentivize businesses, large and small, to get their house in order with respect to health and safety management. It was also introduced against a background of cuts to the Health and Safety Executive and other statutory bodies.
The time taken for HSE to resolve material breaches including service of Notices, revisits, other actions and costs, can escalate into large amounts, and have the potential to put some companies out of business.
At present the scheme is applicable to HSE enforcement only, but there is interest in this scheme being extended to enforcement in the local authority sector, where most small and medium sized businesses are located. Funding cuts are being imposed on local authorities and often these are passed on Environmental Services Departments, which enforce health and safety in this sector.
Business can best avoid fees for intervention and other costs by ensuring their health and safety procedures are up to date. Compliant businesses generally receive less focus from the enforcement agencies.