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HSE delays fee for intervention

The Health and Safety Executive has delayed its plans to introduce a new scheme which would see contactors hit with fees of up to £124 per hour for safety breaches by at least six months.

The safety watchdog said its “fee for intervention” would still be introduced but that it would not come into force as planned in April.

Instead, HSE programme director Gordon MacDonald said the scheme would likely come into force in October 2012.

Only firms which breach safety rules will be eligible to pay the fees.

Mr MacDonald 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.

“The government intends to proceed with the FFI scheme as recommended to ministers by HSE’s board in December in response to the formal consultation that took place last summer.

“Discussions are still taking place on the technical details of the scheme, which we expect to conclude soon.

“Therefore, FFI will not be introduced in April but at the next available opportunity, which is likely to be October 2012.”

Detailed guidance for employers and organisations will be available on HSE’s website ahead of implementation.

Industry groups have raised concerns about the scheme, suggesting it may lead to abuse, with inspectors tempted to use the new system to make up for the deep funding cuts imposed by government.

UK Contractors group chief executive Stephen Ratcliffe said: “The industry is naturally disappointed that the scheme is going ahead despite our considerable misgivings.  Even so, it is good to hear that HSE is delaying implementation to ensure that it is done  in  an orderly manner.  An April start was always unrealistic.”