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  • Ian Read

HSE Fee For Intervention

Firstly, it is important to know that HSE inspectors have the legal right to enter any workplace without prior notice. An employer cannot refuse them entry, although they must first provide identification of who they are; you can check this by calling HSE on 0300 790 6896.

An HSE inspector can ask about your systems of work, speak to your workers, look at documents and take photographs. If the inspector finds that you are in material breach of health and safety law, you will have to pay.

However, the fact is, the HSE does not impose fines; it takes criminal cases before the courts for them to deal with and issue fines.

So what is an FFI?

If you are found to be in material breach of health and safety law, you will have to pay for the time it takes us to identify the breach and help you put things right. This includes investigating and taking enforcement action and is called fee for intervention (FFI).

How does it work?

If the HSE visit your workplace and find that you are in material breach of health and safety law, you will have to pay for the time it takes them to identify what is wrong and to help you put things right. This is called a fee for intervention (FFI).

If you don't break the law, you won't pay anything. Duty holders who comply with the law, or where there is no material breach, will not be charged FFI for any work that HSE does with them.

Who does the FFI apply to?

It applies to duty holders where HSE is the enforcing authority. This will include:

  • employers

  • self-employed who put others at risk

  • public and limited companies

  • general, limited and limited liability partnerships

  • crown and public bodies

What does the law say?

The Health and Safety and Nuclear (Fees) Regulations 2021 say that a fee is payable to HSE if:

  • a person is contravening, or has contravened health and safety laws; and

  • an inspector is of the opinion that the person is or has done so and notifies the person in writing of that opinion.

What is a material breach?

A material breach is something which an HSE inspector considers serious enough that they need to formally write to the business requiring action to be taken to deal with the material breach. If the inspector gives you a notification of contravention (NoC) after their visit, you'll have to pay a fee.

The NoC must include:

  • the law that the inspector considers has been broken

  • the reason(s) for their opinion

  • notification that a fee is payable to HSE

Where an inspector simply gives you advice, either verbal or written, you won't have to pay anything for this advice. However, it is advised that you make immediate contact with a qualified or competent health and safety professional, so that they can assist you with the advice given by the inspector.

How much is an FFI?

Fees for Intervention are currently based on an hourly rate of £163 an hour (amended April 2022) with the clock continuing until the issue has been fully resolved and re-inspected. If you imagine the possible time needed to complete a full health and safety investigation, this could potentially result in a significant sum of money becoming due, in addition to any court fine.

Fees start applying from the first breach identified and may include time:

  • at your business or workplace

  • preparing reports

  • getting specialist advice

  • talking to you after the visit

  • talking to your workers

The fee can vary depending on:

  • how long the original visit was

  • the time spent helping you put things right

  • the time it took to investigate your case

  • any time spent on taking action against you (includes court time)

Inspectors will apply the FFI guidance, with their enforcement decisions based on the principles of HSE's enforcement decision-making frameworks.

Potential prosecution for directors

Directors of the company can be held personally liable for breaches in health and safety regulations, and HSE may prosecute the company and its directors at the same time. The consequences of being found guilty of health and safety errors can include imprisonment in the most serious cases, as well as disqualification as a company director for up to 15 years.

HSE FFI’s of up to £20,000 are common, and in cases of serious negligence court fines can be unlimited. This has serious implications for the future, potentially resulting in company insolvency and personal bankruptcy.

The key is to make sure you are compliant.

If you are in any doubt, you can call upon Essential Health and Safety to provide health and safety advice, support and guidance for your company. Tel: 07425 142 821

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Essential Fact 01120522 - What is HSE FFI
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