Health & Safety at Work have reported that the Fee for Intervention (FFI) appeal process is under challenge. Facilities management company OCS Group has been granted a first hearing over the way the HSE handles FFI appeals, alleging that the regulator is in breach of “natural justice”. The claimants counsel will argue that the HSE is effectively acting as "prosecutor, judge and jury" in a situation where it has “a financial interest in imposing, maximising and upholding fees.”
The claim originated in August 2014 over a notice of contravention over the use of strimmers at Heathrow airport where the HSE alleged that OCS had breached the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations. OCS had its appeal against the HSE decision of a material breach rejected by the executive.
It’s expected the HSE will defend the claim by contending the FFI charge is a civil penalty more akin to a parking ticket than a criminal offence and therefore does not warrant the safeguards of a full judicial appeal process.
“This is an interesting case for the HSE,” said Jason Allison, SG World Customer Insight Specialist, “if it gains any traction it will potentially introduce more cost into the FFI scheme which was originally conceived to shift the expense of health and safety regulation from the public purse to those businesses that break health and safety laws.
“Obviously health and safety managers remain focused on putting in place processes that will protect the workforce and demonstrate a pro-active approach to workplace safety to the HSE. No business wants to get to the point where they are fighting over FFI costs.”