Companies ‘walking into health and safety fees timebomb’
British company directors are still “woefully unaware” of the cost of breaking health and safety regulations, it appears.
A leading UK health and safety law consultancy has found that the vast majority of industry leaders don’t know that the Health and Safety Executive charges a crippling hourly rate to intervene at any workplace to investigate any material breach.
Set at £147 per hour, four-fifths of directors and company owners didn’t know about the two-year-old Fee For Intervention (FFI) process, with many thinking that HSE inspections after an incident were paid for out of general taxation, the Protecting.co.uk company says.
“FFI is still relatively new, so employers could possibly be excused for not knowing the full facts,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “But it exists for a reason – to make companies take the health and safety of workers and customers seriously.”
According to a survey of company owners and directors:
• 81% were not aware of the Fee For Intervention process
• 70% thought HSE interventions were paid out of taxation
• 45% thought HSE interventions were paid for out of any court fines that might be levied
“All of these myths are untrue,” says Hall, “The fact is that as soon as an HSE inspector finds health and safety laws have been broken, the company becomes liable to pay the Executive’s costs – and it’s not cheap.”
Protecting.co.uk says that these fees – set at £147 per hour – can be crippling for some companies, but the threat sets the onus on both directors and employees to ensure that workplaces remain compliant.
“At nearly £1,200 for a day’s work for an inspector, this is the proverbial ton of bricks that companies can find themselves under if they break the law,” Hall says. “For a smaller company that could be crippling, but no business should put themselves in that position in the first place.”
As for one of the ‘myths’ held by seven out of ten directors: “There’s no way HSE interventions should be paid for out of taxes – why should law-abiding citizens foot the bill for exposing workplace criminals?”
Protecting.co.uk lays to rest another misconception about the Health and Safety Executive that is also common among company directors.
“They’re not out to get you,” says Mark Hall, “They’re not trying to trap you into paying FFI charges and court fines. In fact, they go out of their way to help you and your company and prevent you from endangering employees.”
Hall points out there are number of resources online such as Protecting.co.uk and the HSE website, both bursting at the seams with advice for both employers and employees.
“From ladders to toilets, asbestos to safety equipment, these sites explain the most common reasons for safety failures and how you can make sure they never happens at your workplace.”
Protecting.co.uk says that health and safety law shouldn’t be a problem for business owners, especially if they undertake regular safety audits with the help of expert consultants.
“We cut the jargon out of protecting your employees, visitors and customers,” says Hall, “Consult with us, and you need never worry about paying FFI charges.”