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Why it pays for construction customers to stay safe

At a glance

  • Construction customers are at risk of incurring Fees for Intervention (FFI) since the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) changed its fee structure.

Since the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) changed its fee structure last year, your construction customers have been at risk of incurring Fees for Intervention (FFI).

Through FFI, any organisation found to have committed a ‘material breach’ of health and safety law will have to pay all related HSE investigation and enforcement costs.

It is not yet clear whether the HSE intends to launch a random inspection programme, but it is widely understood that inspection fees are £124 per hour and a percentage of all money raised would be retained by the HSE. The balance would go to HM Treasury and its annual income from FFI has been estimated at £40m.

Your construction customers should be advised on how to do everything possible to avoid a material breach.

Examples of material breaches in construction

  • The movement of mobile plant on site
  • Access and egress to places of work
  • Demolition activities
  • Steel erection
  • Excavation work
  • Asbestos removal
  • Dealings with contractors or contract works
  • Training for managers and for other ‘ticketed’ processes like crane drivers, site managers, scaffolders, steel erectors etc.

Identifying breaches

A material breach occurs when, in the opinion of an HSE inspector, there has been a contravention of health and safety law that is serious enough to warrant notification in writing.

These breaches can come to light when the HSE carries out a routine inspection of a site, investigates an accident or follows up on a complaint.

If it then has to issue an improvement or prohibition notice, this would also likely trigger the charges. Alternatively, it might simply be the case that it writes to notify a construction customer that there has been a material breach.

To decide if the breach is ‘material’, inspectors will apply the decision frameworks established under the HSE’s Enforcement Management Model (EMM) and Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS).

These principles are quite high-level and cover many sectors beyond just construction, leading to ambiguity. Further information is set out in HSE 47, ‘Guidance on the application of Fee for Intervention (FFI)’, which is available to download at www.hse.gov.uk.

Costly appeal

Construction customers should also be made aware that FFI costs are not covered by workplace insurance policies. However, as a professional risk adviser, there is still an opportunity for you to add value.

Construction customers need to be reminded that they can appeal an FFI charge, but be cautious! The £124 hourly charge will apply throughout proceedings, and remain payable should the appeal fail.

Your construction customers should be advised to demonstrate a proactive attitude to risk management, which could help them demonstrate a responsible attitude to risk to the HSE. They need dependable insurance and continuous risk advice.

Don’t miss your monthly Insider for further construction risk insight or read the Fees For Intervention factsheet here.

Image © Getty

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