Health and safety or you pay

The Government is planning to give the Health and Safety Executive a legal duty to make a cost recovery from organisations and businesses who are found to be in breach of health and safety law. Whilst this is nothing new to high risk sectors such as the offshore oil industry, it should be of concern

The Government is planning to give the Health and Safety Executive a legal duty to make a cost recovery from organisations and businesses who are found to be in breach of health and safety law. Whilst this is nothing new to high risk sectors such as the offshore oil industry, it should be of concern to those that consider themselves low risk.

In simple terms, the proposals will mean that only those sectors covered by HSE regulation will be at risk; those that only deal with local authority regulation will not be subject to this system.

As for cost, HSE time will only be recovered where the breach is material - that is the matter is sufficiently significant to justify a formal letter or enforcement notice. Minor breaches won't be charged for. At a suggested hourly rate for an HSE inspector, a formal letter could cost £750 whilst an enforcement notice could cost £1500. At the extreme, a full investigation could cost tens of thousands of pounds.

You have been warned!
This was first published in October 2011

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