Attending a meeting recently, with the HSE and fellow consultants, the impact of the Fee for Intervention (FFI) was discussed from the regulators, consultants and our client’s viewpoint.
Another consultant shared a recent experience where a client had failed to manage its regular sub- contractors properly. There was a poor follow up on sub- contractor’s information and the client felt implementing systems to manage this was not important as they had been using them for many years. This consultant warned his client of their failings but this was ignored.
Following an incident the HSE became involved and focused on the businesses failures, including the need to check on sub- contractors including checks on competence, training and RAMS.
The incident involved a poorly managed electrical installation in an area where water was seen to impact on the safe IP rating of the electrics and where a lot of silicone sealant was used to try to make the installation waterproof. The HSE identified the work as a very poor installation. Unfortunately the sub- contractors had since been difficult to contact by the HSE.
The HSE applied FFI charges for attending a site meeting and report writing; which totalled around 4 hours charging time. The HSE charges related to a lack of management of contractors – because limited evidence was available of good practices being applied (the new HSE guidance on management of contractors that was not being followed).
The HSE provided the meeting with copies of the paperwork they would look to leave a business following a visit, which would list out breaches and what would be charged. Not all are used across the UK but Kent inspectors are advised to complete paperwork on site to indicate what is likely to be billed for, apart from offsite entry of notice. The Principal Inspector suggested that early acceptance of failures help to keep the costs down.
It was indicated that it’s likely in future cases where FFI is applied that a number will also proceed into prosecution. Court costs would be less as they would account for FFI charges already made.
The HSE will continue to use information such as RIDDOR reports and target adverse insurance reports – as many businesses will not have followed up on actions and are seen as easy targets.
Interestingly, the issues of charging for attending PACE interviews was discussed (these are not mandatory to attend as a business can provide a written submission); costs of a meeting would be charged under FFI and it was suggested many may decline to attend in future.
A question was raised on the percentage of businesses that are being visited who are currently being billed under FFI; feedback suggests this is probably around 80% of visits that incur charging.
Based upon this ARE YOU ONE OF THE 8 IN 10 who could you incur an unwanted bill from the HSE? Perhaps it’s time to ask an expert to help make your business compliant.