The HSE has today opened a three-month consultation on how cost recovery for intervention will work, having already agreed the underlying principle with Government.

The new scheme could apply from as early as April 2012. For the first time, the changes place a duty on the HSE to recover the costs of their interventions in certain circumstances.

Costs would be recovered if a material breach – a failure to adhere to health and safety law identified by an inspector as requiring formal action – is discovered during an inspection or investigation. Fees would apply up to the point where the HSE’s intervention in supporting businesses in putting matters right has concluded.

Under the proposals, the HSE will recover costs at current estimates of £133 per hour. Costs of any specialist support needed by HSE would also be passed on. Invoices will need to be paid within 30 days.

Gordon MacDonald, HSE’s Programme Director, said:

“The Government has agreed that it is right that those who break the law should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right – and not the public purse.

“These proposals provide a further incentive for people to operate within the law, levelling the playing field between those who comply and those who don’t. Compliant firms will not pay a penny in intervention fees.

“HSE already recovers its costs in a range of industries and we have considerable experience of making these schemes work.

“We want to hear from as many people as possible about how we plan to operate the scheme, to help make its introduction as successful as possible.”