HSE inspection charging regime starts to bite in construction sector
The first Fee for Intervention (FFI) invoices were issued by HSE during week commencing 21 January 2013. The value invoiced for the two months from October to November was £727, 644 arising from 1418 FFI invoices.
An earlier Freedom of Information request revealed that that 373 construction sites were visited under the scheme between October 1 and November 30 2012 and that construction made up more than a third of the 903 visits which could result in a “Notification of Contravention.”
Breakdown of invoice values
The HSE Board heard (30 Jan) that a “broad breakdown” of the invoices shows:
- 10% of invoices are for values greater than £1,000;
- 70% of the invoices are for less than £500; and
- 30% less than £200.
Given that a over third of visits involved construction sites it is likely that UK construction projects may face HSE cost recovery in the region of £250,000 during the first two months of FFI.
Queries, disputes and adjudicating panel
Invoices can challenged e.g. if the recipient disputes there was a “material breach of the law” or the amount of time the fee is charged is incorrect. This must be done within 21 days. If you disagree with the HSE response you can raise a dispute.
The dispute must be “put down in writing” setting out why you disagree and be lodged within 21 days of the date of the HSE response to your query.
HSE will consider all disputes and provide written confirmation of the outcome. If you are not satisfied with this response, you can write again setting out your reasons. A panel of HSE staff and an independent representative will consider your dispute and HSE will write back to you with the outcome.
The independent members of the disputes panel will be selected on 6 February to agree their terms and conditions so that the first panel can be in pace by the end of March.
You will have to pay for the HSE time spent handling your dispute. The amount to be paid will be the time taken to resolve your dispute multiplied by the FFI hourly rate. If your dispute is upheld, HSE will refund invoices or part invoices you have paid related to your upheld dispute, and you will not be charged a fee for handling the dispute.