Health and safety proposals are likely to wreak financial havoc for manufacturers as the Health and Safety Executive intends to charge £133 per hour for its inspectors’ time.
The HSE plans to recover the costs it incurs from offending employers while it investigates a material breach of health and safely and any additional costs in providing the employer with a solution.
If implemented in their present form, these proposals are likely to have serious financial implications for employers that are found to be in breach of health and safety laws.
Paul Laidler, managing director of Laidler Associates, said: “The costs will certainly mount up very quickly, so it’s important that employers are fully aware of these new proposals. However, they should also bear in mind that the charges will only apply to companies that break health and safety laws, so those that are careful about meeting their responsibilities and staying within the law will not be affected in any way.”
Although the arrangements have already been agreed by the government in principle, they were available for public consultation until October 14. If, as seems likely, the proposals are adopted, the new system of charging could start as soon as April 2012.
This wake-up call for manufacturers should encourage them to review their health and safety practices and procedures to ensure that nothing has been overlooked. But manufacturers’ organisation EEF believes that financial burden would not be the only problem with the new reforms.
EEF head of health & safety policy, Terry Woolmer, commented: “As it stands the proposals are not sufficiently objective and transparent in differentiating between those failing to manage health and safety and those who are acting responsibly, but have made some oversights. Failure to strike this clear balance in any implementation of cost recovery may damage relations between the regulator and business.”
Employers are encouraged to seek expert advice like that provided by Laidler Associates, rather than taking the risk that HSE inspectors may be the first to discover a problem.
Mr Laidler, added: “The cost of professional advice from a consultant with a proven track record is modest and will certainly be less than the new HSE cost recovery charges that are likely to be imposed if health and safety laws have been broken, even inadvertently. Therefore where there is any doubt at all about health and safety compliance, professional advice is a very sound investment.”