Health and Safety – is it ever clear cut?

“Only businesses deemed to be operating in ‘high risk areas’, such as construction sites and those with poor safety records, will have to continue with inspections, while shops, offices, pubs and clubs will be spared”

This recent announcement by Government Ministers prompted us to investigate further to see how this affects our Customers. We have consulted with our Health & Safety experts and can provide you with the following guidance:

Firstly we think it is pertinent to understand that the above statement is saying that Clubs will not get regular inspections, it does not say that they are exempt from Health and Safety Law. What needs to be remembered is that a prosecution will occur if a club etc breaks the law, irrelevant of inspections being carried out by the authorities or not!

Also probably more pertinent to our Customers is that failure to comply with mananging Health & Safety could result in a breach of a policy condition, thus invalidating any future claims.

We are of the opinion that the above statement was released as the Government is introducing the which no doubt will be controversial “Fee for Intervention scheme” (FFI) Scheme from Oct 1st 2012.

It is useful therefore to note that the HSE generally are not the enforcing authority for Clubs and Pubs, this is usually the local authority, however if the breach is serious enough i.e. Death or serious injury then the HSE would be the ones prosecuting the Club etc. For example if a club is having work carried out and an incident occurs then they will be responsible and the FFI will apply.

Fees for Intervention – Possible impact on your business

From 1st October 2012, the scheme will punish those who break health and safety laws by encouraging the HSE to recover costs from the offending businesses.

What constitutes a breach?
Costs may be recovered by the HSE if there is a breach that is sufficiently severe that the HSE is required to inform the duty holder in writing. Such a breach is considered a ‘material breach’. The decision to inform the duty holder in writing is taken by an HSE inspector.

What are the costs that can be recovered?
The costs take the form of a fee that is charged against the business in material breach. At present the rate of the fee is £124 an hour, and the total costs incurred will be calculated by the number of hours taken for the HSE to complete its regulatory work. The HSE’s regulatory work includes identifying and resolving the material breach.
The hourly rate may change in the future.

In what situations could FFI arise?

  • Health risks – such as exposure to harmful substances e.g. asbestos
  • Safety risks – such as injuries caused by moving machinery or falls from height
  • Failure to manage health and safety risks to a sustainable level

If you need more guidance or a quotation for your Health & Safety please get in touch.