What is FFI?
If the HSE visit your workplace and find that you are in material breach of health and safety law, you will have to pay for the time it takes the HSE to identify what is wrong and to help you put things right. This is called a fee for intervention (FFI).
If you don't break the law, you won't pay anything. Duty holders who comply with the law, or where there is no material breach, will not be charged FFI for any work that HSE does with them.
Who FFI applies too
It applies to duty holders where the HSE is the enforcing authority. This will include:
- Self-employed who put others at risk
- Public and limited companies
- General, limited and limited liability partnerships
- Crown and public bodies
What is a material breach?
A material breach is something which an inspector considers serious enough that they need to formally write to the business requiring action to be taken to deal with the material breach. If the inspector gives you a notification of contravention (NoC) after their visit, you'll have to pay a fee. The NoC must include:
- The law that the inspector considers has been broken
- The reason(s) for their opinion
- Notification that a fee is payable to HSE
Where an inspector simply gives you advice, either verbal or written, you won't have to pay anything for this advice.
HSE increase FFI charge
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has increased its fee for intervention (FFI) hourly rate from £129 to £154.
The FFI was designed to recover costs incurred by the HSE during regulatory action against organisations that fail to comply with safety and health law, thus transferring the financial liability from the taxpayer to the business.
The new charge came into effect on 6 April 2019 and it is the second increase since the scheme was introduced in October 2012. The rate first went up in 2016, from £124 per hour.
In a statement, the HSE said this can be attributed in part to the fact that the scheme has operated recently at a deficit.
In 2017/18 the HSE reported a loss of £1.9m from running FFI after the £15m it generated from fines to businesses was offset by its operating costs, which totalled almost £17m.
"HSE's cost recovery rate for FFI will increase to £154 per hour with effect from 6 April 2019. This means that businesses that are found to be in material breach of health and safety law will be charged at this new rate. As now, those businesses that meet their legal requirements will not pay anything for HSE's regulatory activity."
"HSE must set the FFI rate with the aim of recovering its full cost and in recent years it has operated at a deficit (i.e. cost more than recovered in income). A combination of this and cumulative inflationary pressures support the increased hourly rate."
Charlotte O'Kane, an associate at law firm Pinsent Masons, said: "The fee was originally £124 per hour to cover inspectors' time and that went up [in 2016] to £129 per hour, which is a relatively small increase. This is a much more significant jump and dutyholders will notice a difference in their FFI invoices given the roughly 20% increase in the hourly rate for HSE inspectors.
It serves to emphasise the fact that organisations should ensure that they are complying with the law and operating safely. If an HSE inspector finds a material breach of health and safety law, that is now going to be significantly more expensive."
Should you require any further guidance on specific Health and Safety issues or require training on how to stay safe and compliant please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01268 649006