A recently issued independent report has determined that FFI is a proven effective scheme that should remain in place. Fee for Intervention was designed to shift the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from the public purse to businesses that break the law and the report concludes the following:
- Fears that FFI would be used to generate revenue have proven to be unfounded.
- While not popular with some inspectors and duty holders, it has been embedded effectively and applied consistently.
- There is no viable alternative that can achieve the same aims.
The report recognised that inspectors at the HSE have implemented ‘Fee for Intervention’ consistently and fairly since it started in October 2012, and found no evidence to suggest that enforcement policy decisions had been influenced in any way by its introduction.
The independent panel which conducted the review was chaired by Alan Harding, professor of public policy at Liverpool University. Other participants were representatives of the GMB trade union, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Department for Work and Pensions.
According to the report’s authors, the professional approach adopted by HSE’s inspectors has ensured any challenges raised by the scheme during its first 18 months were minimised. The evidence suggests the concerns voiced about FFI have not manifested themselves to any significant or serious extent and that ‘generally inspectors and dutyholders continue to work together in improving health and safety management’.
The HSE has expressed that both the HSE and the Government believe it is right that those who fail to meet their legal health and safety obligations should pay HSE costs, and acceptance of this principle is growing. The HSE is pleased the review has concluded that FFI is working effectively and should be retained.
From a consultants perspective working with a large number of clients across the UK we have found that those businesses that take Health and Safety seriously have so far had little worry about. It’s still fairly early days but the scheme does appear to have been bedded in well and is unlikely to go away anytime soon. It’s always going to be better to ensure your house is in order rather than wait for the HSE to come knocking.
The report can be found on HSE’s website: www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/