The new “fee for fault” policy, currently in development, is designed to help the HSE make up for the impending 35% cut in government funding that it faces.
The HSE already generates a third of its budget itself and has been encouraged by government ministers to create new revenue streams. “Given that we do already have a substantial level of cost recovery in HSE it seems both logical and fair to all dutyholders that we look at ways of extending this approach to increase consistency and place any increased burden on those who are found to be at fault, said HSE chair Judith Hackitt.
She said: “We are working on a proposal to charge those who create risks. A so-called: “fee for fault” principle. The idea being that those who are found not to be compliant with the law during an inspection should be charged for the work that HSE does following the issuing of a notice or other requirement for action to rectify the fault. We believe that this approach is fair and equitable and will be welcomed by the vast majority of businesses who are compliant and who see those who take short cuts as getting away with an unfair competitive advantage. Such an approach should be seen by business as a way of levelling the playing field.”
The more notices the HSE issues, the more income it would generate. The idea opens up the prospect of incentivised HSE inspectors operating like traffic wardens, issuing on-the-spot fines, with a further step seeing private sector inspection teams raising money from safety infringements.
“We do recognise that there will need to be safeguards built in to the process to ensure that such a scheme is transparent and open to scrutiny,” Hacket added.
“Those who are doing the right thing have nothing to fear from any such change in approach – and we will be emphasising through charging the need for those who choose to flout the law to put their house in order.