The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that it is to consult on proposals to make its cost recovery scheme dispute process fully independent following the settlement of a judicial review brought by OCS group before the planned High Court Hearing.
The scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI) was introduced in October 2012 to shift the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from the public purse to businesses which break the law and ensures the cost burden of HSE intervention is picked up by those companies and not taxpayers.
If an inspector identifies serious health and safety failings in the workplace about which they need to write to the dutyholder, then that dutyholder has to pay the costs of the HSE visit. If the inspector simply issues verbal advice there is no charge. If there is disagreement on HSE’s decision the dutyholder can dispute it.
Until now, disputes were considered by a panel which consisted of two members from HSE and one independent person. However, after reviewing the current process HSE will consult with relevant stakeholders with a view to making the process fully independent.
A spokesperson for HSE said: “HSE has always kept the dispute process under review and following a recent application for a judicial review we believe the time is right to move to a dispute process which is completely independent of HSE.”
OCS were granted permission to proceed with a judicial review in September 2016 having previously unsuccessfully queried an FFI bill totally £2,306 which it had received from the HSE for breach of Control of Vibration at Work Regulations. Escalating the matter to a legal challenge, the company questioned the fairness of the dispute process stating the HSE could act as a “prosecution, judge and jury”. The matter was settled prior to the scheduled court hearing in March 2017 with OCS accepting the HSE’s commitment to reviewing its process and addressing the concerns raised.