Summary and Implications

The Health and Safety Executive wants to recover the costs it incurs in investigating a business found to be in material breach of health and safety law. A breach is material if it was so serious it justified formal intervention – warranting, for example, prohibition or improvement notices. The consequences for businesses of these proposals are:

  • Costs of dealing with health and safety non-compliance will increase;
  • The total fee for an intervention could be considerable. An HSE investigation can take a significant amount of time to complete. The proposed estimated hourly rate is £133 for all HSE staff;
  • The HSE suffered a 35 per cent reduction in its budget following the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review and so the new regime may be a mechanism for making up some of the shortfall.

Consultation

On 22 July 2011, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published a consultation about its proposals.

The underlying principle of costs recovery was agreed by the Coalition in January 2011. This consultation is intended to elicit views on how the HSE should recover the costs of the work it undertakes.

The consultation closes on 14 October 2011.

A duty to recover

Under the proposals, the HSE will have a legal duty to recover its costs of intervention where there is a material breach of health and safety law, but not where it already recovers its costs under an existing regime (e.g. COMAH).