Fee for Intervention is ‘Effective and Should Stay’

An independent report has concluded that the Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme implemented by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in October 2012 has proven effective and should stay. FFI is a cost-recovery scheme which requires those who break health and safety laws to recover the HSE’s related costs of inspection, investigation and enforcement action.

The report, compiled by a professor of public policy at Liverpool University, representatives of the GMB trade union, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Department for Work and Pensions, found that the HSE has consistently and fairly implemented the scheme, and found no evidence to suggest that enforcement policy decisions had been influenced in any way.

Detractors of the FFI scheme had claimed that requiring rule-breakers to recover HSE expenses would motivate investigators to fabricate bogus health and safety violations, but no such evidence has been found.

According to the report’s authors, the professional approach adopted by HSE inspectors has been essential to minimising any challenges raised by the scheme during its first 18 months. The report claims that any concerns voiced about FFI have not materialised to a significant extent, and that inspectors and duty holders continue working together to improve health and safety management.

Due to FFI’s effectiveness, the report suggests that business leaders are increasingly more accepting of the idea that those who fail to meet their legal health and safety obligations should pay the HSE’s costs, a view held by both the HSE and the government. The report reasons that FFI shifts the costs of health and safety regulation from the public purse to those businesses that break health and safety laws, thus easing the financial burden of the public. The report states that:

• Fears that FFI would be used to generate revenue have been proven unfounded.
• While not popular with some inspectors and duty holders, FFI has been embedded effectively and applied consistently.
• There is no viable alternative that can achieve the same aims.