Nearly half of leading employers surveyed at the IOSH conference in March by business law firm, DWF, admitted to having apprehensions about the new Fee for Intervention (FFI).

The new FFI cost, which the Government recently announced will now be delayed until the autumn, will be incurred when a contravention – that is a failure to observe health and safety law requiring a formal action – is discovered during a HSE inspection or investigation. The business will continue to accrue FFI until the business has put matters right with the support of the HSE.

Steffan Groch, Head of Regulatory Litigation, at DWF said:

“Almost half of all respondents (47%) are concerned that the introduction of the Fee for Intervention will make businesses think twice before seeking advice from the HSE.

“More worrying still, a quarter weren’t aware of the HSE’s proposals, despite the obvious impacts on their businesses – a sign perhaps that the proposals have failed to be publicised sufficiently.”

Groch continued:

“While most of the nations’ leading employers are accepting of the new scheme, there is deep rooted anxiety that the high costs of FFI will have negative effects on British businesses. 49% of respondents said the £124 per hour cost of FFI is likely to negatively and disproportionately impact upon small and medium sized businesses.

“Alarmingly a third of employers we surveyed rejected the proposals all together.

“For those who are supporting the introduction of FFI, there is a desire to see that the HSE implements the scheme fairly, and the conference attendees showed widespread support for the application of a sliding cost scale, based on the size of the business, ability to pay, and the type of intervention that the HSE has to undertake.

“While we will have to wait to see what the true cost is to British businesses it appears we will be waiting in the dark as businesses are left without the well-overdue guidance they require to adequately prepare for this overhaul of the system.”