Following HSE’s consultation on cost recovery for breaches of health and safety law, which closed last month, a ‘dry run’ of the scheme has now begun.

The ‘dry run’ to see how well it works in practice began in October, the HSE revealed in its latest newsletter. The phase will last until 9 December.

During this stage, the HSE will test the new procedures and how well businesses understand the scheme but no actual costs will be recovered. The ‘dry run’ will be in operation in the East and South East and Yorkshire and North East regions. Staff from HSE’s Operational Directorates (FOD, HID, CSEAD), will be involved from Chelmsford, Norwich, Bedford, Basingstoke, Newcastle and the Construction Division.

The scheme, known as ‘fee for intervention’ (FFI) means businesses found to have broken health and safety laws will pay the costs incurred by HSE in helping them to put matters right. 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. FFI is set to be introduced from as early as April 2012.

A HSE spokesperson told Workplace Law: “The ‘dry run’ will test how well the proposed processes, systems and procedures work and provide the opportunity to learn from staff feedback. It also gives us the opportunity to gather views from duty-holders to supplement the data being gathered during the consultation exercise, and collect and analyse essential data for the final stage of the impact assessment.”