The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a consultation taking views on how disputes are considered under its Fee for Intervention scheme, which will close on 2 June 2017.
The Fee for Intervention scheme has been in place since 2012 and is charged by the HSE to cover its inspection of work activities and for investigating incidents and complaints. The fee is currently £129 per hour and is only charged to businesses that are found to have committed material breaches of health and safety law. A material breach occurs where, in the opinion of the HSE inspector, there is or has been a breach of health and safety law that requires them to issue a notice to the company or organisation.
Currently, when an organisation disputes their notice of a material breach and the HSE's intention to charge a Fee for Intervention, the dispute is considered by a panel which is made up of two HSE senior managers and one independent person. The consultation released by the HSE seeks to change this and move to a fully independent process for considering disputes arising out of the Fee for Intervention scheme.
The HSE hopes that this consultation will draw views from across various sectors as to how the new process should operate, and have placed an emphasis on making sure that any new process is accessible to all types and sizes of business. The HSE has also recognised the need for any new scheme to be proportionate to the issues involved and the amount of fees it incurs.
The consultation also proposes making the Fee for Intervention process simpler in order for businesses to understand why the HSE considers them to be in material breach of health and safety law, and to assess whether or not fees have been reasonably incurred and has set out a list of information that it would provide in these circumstances.
The Fee for Intervention scheme has not been popular amongst business since its inception, further levels of independence, such as the independent panel member, have been achieved throughout its existence. However, the most recent proposals would constitute a major change to the way in which the HSE's Fee for Intervention would be administered, and may lead to an increased level of impartiality in disputes. The HSE's consultation is open until 2 June 2017 and they invite responses from as many stakeholders as possible.
If you would like to discuss any relevant issues surrounding the consultation or have any queries about the current Fee for Intervention scheme please contact Duncan Reed, Legal Director at TLT LLP on 0333 00 60742 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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