Inadequate Health & Safety procedures have resulted in heavy fines for many businesses in the last year. In October 2012, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) introduced its new FFI (Fee For Intervention) regime. Under that scheme, they imposed £5.5m in fines in the first year.
This demonstrates that not only is it very easy for companies to fall short of their obligations, but also that the HSE is serious about punishing them. Any time that HSE inspectors spend on investigating and resolving a breach, is chargeable at £124 per hour plus VAT, so putting things right can quickly become very expensive.
Chris Hall, Managing Partner of Lighthouse Risk Services comments:
The HSE’s findings, after the first year of the FFI regime are very thought-provoking. Clearly, the cost of non-compliance can be very high, but what also stands out is that there were fines imposed for breaches that could catch many businesses out. As well as the more predictable interventions following things such as slip, trip and, fall hazards, there were also fines for welfare issues like not providing enough toilets or washing facilities for staff.
So, the obvious implication is that the focus should shift to planning to ensure that you are compliant before an inspector visits you – especially before a pre-warned visit. That will involve reviewing the significant hazards that are relevant to your organisation, and then ensuring that you implement measures that address them, to minimise the level of risk. You should also check that all relevant paperwork including examinations, risk assessments and audits are up to date.
If you should receive a visit from the HSE, it’s very important to think about how you will manage the visit – a factor that often gets overlooked. Your aim should be to keep the visits to a minimum, and to control them as far as possible. To do this, ensure that all staff know to direct the HSE inspector to the person that is responsible for your health and safety. Once they arrive, a short meeting should take place to establish the intentions of the inspection and discuss the company’s safety processes and culture.