Independent panel to judge safety check fee rows

Up to now the HSE has been both prosecutor and judge in any case of perceived shortcoming over safety in the workplace.

Under new plans to make the system fairer the panel of two HSE staff and an independent person could soon be replaced with a fully independent panel of experts.

A contractor told the Enquirer: “The HSE were a law unto themselves. If you decided to appeal against an HSE inspector charge, you could only go before the HSE for a ruling.

“It was starting to look like a money raising exercise.”

The Fee for Intervention scheme was introduced in October 2012.

Its aim was to shift the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from the public purse to businesses which break the law and ensure the cost burden of HSE intervention is picked up by those companies and not taxpayers.

If an inspector identifies serious health and safety failings in the workplace about which they need to write to the dutyholder, then that dutyholder has to pay the costs of the HSE visit. If the inspector simply issues verbal advice there is no charge. 

A spokesperson for HSE said: “HSE has always kept the dispute process under review and following a recent application for a judicial review we believe the time is right to move to a dispute process which is completely independent of HSE.”

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workplace health and safety