The HSE's 'Fees for Intervention' (FFI) scheme, under which it plans to recover its investigation costs from organisations it finds to be in breach of health and safety legislation, will not now come into effect in April, as originally planned.
The regulator announced that further discussion will be carried out before the scheme is launched in terms of the way in which the scheme is implemented. Owing to parliamentary process this means it will likely not come in now until October this year.
The HSE said the Government had agreed that it was right that law-breakers should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right – and not the public purse.
The organisation said: "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.”
The HSE said it would use the extra time to work with organisations to improve their understanding of the scheme and how it will affect them. All those who will be involved in implementing it are involved, including inspectors who uncover breaches, or contraventions – which will be the trigger for costs recovery when the scheme is launched.
Some companies have said they see the scheme as a secondary business tax, given the HSE estimate as much as £38 million pounds could be recovered. This contrasts with the less than £8 million which the HSE recovered last year from successful prosecutions.