We understand that since October 2012 there has been a growing trend for the HSE to follow up on RIDDOR reports by asking the business to provide a copy of its own internal investigation report. After reviewing this, the HSE will determine if a site visit is necessary and if they do, the business may find that enforcement is taken under the Fee for Intervention (FFI) regime.
This raises an important question on how well your staff are trained in accident investigation? Clearly, a badly completed investigation may well give rise to the HSE taking an interest. Additionally, where conclusions are made that lack suitable evidence, or if staff use the report to vent their frustrations, then this may end up costing your business.
The FFI cost recovery scheme has been running since October 2012 and the first invoices were issued in January 2013. The HSE state that the total sum invoiced for the two months from 1 October to 30 November 2012 was £727,644.81, which came from 1,400 FFI invoices.
A tenth of the invoices were for values greater than £1000, 70% were for less than £500 — with about a third billing less than £200.
So if the HSE were to visit your workplace, what are the most likely areas that they will find a potential “material breach”? We understand from a prominent health & safety legal team that the following are areas that they believe will be easy wins for the HSE:
- Ladder safety – too many examples are seen of ladders being misused as a place of work rather than as a method of access;
- Dangerous work at height – we see from some of our own site inspections that poorly erected scaffolding and improper use of access methods are still common on construction sites. First hand we have also seen how HSE will look to prosecute for events such as missing hand rail or kick boards on working platforms;
- Guarding – as we have previously blogged, prosecutions are commonplace across the UK and most are linked to failure to properly guard dangerous parts. One area to look at is where new machinery is purchased from the EU as CE marking generally does not mean the machine is safe;
- Badly organised transport – keeping people and vehicles segregated is often not done well in our experience and unfortunately, when it goes wrong, it tends to result in very serious injuries or worse;
These are just a few of the areas that the HSE will be looking at and obviously you need to ensure that all aspects of your health & safety are properly managed. The FFI regime is still in its infancy but 1400 invoices in the first 2 months show the HSE mean business so perhaps now is a good time to review where you could improve – before the HSE has cause to.