HSE agrees to appeal process reform
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has bowed to criticism and agreed to reform the appeals process for its fee for intervention scheme.
Since the introduction of fees for intervention (FFI) in October 2012 the HSE has been able to bill companies in breach of workplace safety laws to recover the costs of its investigation.
Among the numerous controversial aspects of the scheme, in the event of a dispute, the HSE gets to decide who is right.
Until now, disputes were considered by a panel which consisted of two members from HSE and one independent person. However, after reviewing the current process, HSE has agreed to consult with stakeholders about how to make the process independent.
A spokesperson for HSE said: “HSE has always kept the dispute process under review and following a recent application for a judicial review we believe the time is right to move to a dispute process which is completely independent of HSE.”
HSE’s movement on the issue settles a judicial review that was set to be heard in the High Court on 8th March 2017. Facilities management company OCS Group was granted permission for the judicial review into how FFI appeals are handled in September 2016. The matter under review was the process used by HSE for handling challenges to its charges for visiting workplaces, under its Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme.
“Our decision to ask for a judicial review of the Fee for Intervention dispute resolution process was not about opposing the idea of FFI but about addressing concerns we have about the independence, fairness and transparency of the dispute process in which HSE effectively acted as prosecution, judge and jury,” said Ian Goodlife, director of health, safety, quality and environmental at OCS Group.
“For OCS Group – and for the business world at large - we are pleased to have reached agreement with HSE that resolves the matter under judicial review and will bring a revised process for determining disputes”, he said.
In the terms of the consent order entered into by both parties, HSE has withdrawn its original August 2014 notice of contravention in which it alleged failures in the management of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) by OCS staff using strimmers.
“This is a significant change that will bring in a new process for determining disputes relating to the FFI scheme which will be completely independent of HSE by 1st September 2017,” said solicitor Michael Appleby of Fisher Scoggins Waters, who represented OCS Group. “Moreover, under a consultation exercise, all stakeholders will have the opportunity to offer their thoughts on the detail of that new process.”
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This article was published on 14 Feb 2017 (last updated on 9 Mar 2017).