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HSE launches consultation on cost recovery plans

The health and safety executive (HSE) has launched a consultation on the implementation of a new policy for recovering costs from businesses found to be breaking health and safety law.

Under the proposals, the HSE would recover costs at a rate of £133 an hour, based on current estimates, in any cases where there has been a failure to adhere to health and safety law which requires formal action, known as a material breach of the law.

Although the Government has already agreed on the principle of allowing the HSE to recover costs through fees, the consultation asks stakeholders for views on how the policy should operate.

HSE programme director Gordon MacDonald told MRW: “The implication for industry is to do with how much is there within any one organisation, the scale and complexity that requires the HSE to spend time identifying it, pursuing it and making sure the breach was rectified.

“Clearly with industries with a higher risk profile, and those industries, sectors and employers shown to be at greater material breach than others that will be the way the policy bites on them.”

MacDonald added: “The principle behind the scheme is that it’s shifting the burden of costs of non-compliance from the public purse that funds the HSE on to those who are in material breach. It’s not a penalty for a failure, that’s a matter for the courts.”

 The new scheme could apply from as early as April 2012 and the deadline for consultation responses is 14 October.

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