At a recent meeting with a long term client, the discussion moved to the proposed HSE Fee for Intervention scheme due to start this coming April. Our client installs signs across the U.K. and works for many blue chip companies, and it was one of these that had recently supplied their take on the scheme.
This company is a very large retail company and they have taken a view that the new scheme will be the start of a change of approach the HSE will be forced into; these include:
- HSE becoming freelance agents;
- Each inspector being set fee generation targets;
- Minimum fee recovery of £740 per basic intervention.
It was interesting to listen to how large businesses are viewing the proposed changes and their interpretation of Fee for Intervention. From working closely with the HSE we had taken an open minded approach that the scheme will be targeted at rogue businesses and that those doing the right things will not get caught out. I suppose only time will tell which line is closest to the truth.
What it did get our client thinking about is the importance of being ready for the changes and the need to implement some of the improvements we have previously discussed; not a bad thing!
As most businesses will appreciate, no matter how well you think you are doing, it will quickly become apparent you have overlooked things when a fresh and well-trained pair of eyes start looking around the business.
We are regularly asked to audit and inspect businesses of all types across the U.K. and will invariably find a number of improvement actions for the business to implement. Clearly, the HSE inspectors are able to do the same and, dependant on how critical they want to be, will determine how many improvements will be required. Talking to a lead HSE inspector recently identified that in most cases he would always find areas for improvements if he wanted to.
I suppose that leads to the question of whether they want to find problems that will lead to Fee for Intervention notices being issued? If the afore said company is right and they are issued targets then making money is likely to be very easy; hopefully a more common sense approach will be adopted otherwise the relationship between business and the HSE will change dramatically.
Perhaps the best approach for now is to look closely at your business and ensure your health and safety systems are as good as they can be – before the HSE feel the need to.