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CHARGES IMPOSED AT MAJORITY OF HSE VISITS

Second run of HSE inspection invoices yields close to £1million

Law firm DWF has reported that a freedom of information (FOI) request has revealed ”

that the “second invoice run” under the HSE’s fees for intervention scheme (FFI) has yielded around £857,000 into the Government’s coffers. The figure is around £100k higher than the first invoice run but included some 1807 invoices – nearly 500 more than those issued during the first period.

When these figures are considered alongside the number of proactive HSE inspections conducted during the invoice period (3,062) it indicates that HSE inspectors are now completing legacy cases (those which were on-going prior to the introduction of the FFI scheme) and are increasingly focusing on frontline FFI work and well over half of HSE inspections result in the generation of an invoice. This is an alarming “strike rate” and business owners can generally expect a proactive HSE inspection to result in an invoice for their time.

There was a large increase in FFI time recorded against manufacturing businesses which accounted for 43 per cent of the total followed by the construction sector which received nearly 30 per cent of the total number of invoices although this figure is expected to rise sharply as the next invoice run will include the month long “Blitz” of Construction sites which resulted in 1 in 5 of the sites visited being issued with enforcement notices.

However, despite the Waste Management sector being high on the HSE priority list, given the sector’s high fatality rate, only 63 invoices were issued against businesses in the Water and Waste Management sector which demonstrates either a high level of compliance in the sector or, more likely, a low inspection rate.

What is encouraging is the average value of invoice remains relatively low at £474 (just under 4 hours) but none of the 1807 invoices included charges for third party specialist work such as expertise from the Buxton based Health & Safety Laboratory (HSL). However, we are aware that there have been 89 queries raised in relation to the invoices issued where the recipient was unhappy with either the cost or the reason for being charged. Of these queries, 13 remain unresolved and of the 76 concluded cases HSE conceded and amended 26 of them in the recipients favour.

This figure is encouraging as it was feared that businesses would not challenge the invoices for fear of rocking the boat and attracting further unwanted attention from HSE. There have been 2 “level 1 disputes” heard so far which have resulted in one of the invoices being amended. Businesses should review any HSE FFI invoice upon receipt and seek legal advice if they have any concerns.

DWF is continuing to monitor the progress of FFI and will continue to report on trends.”

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