By Marcus Leach

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation has warned of the potential damage to relations between the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and companies from proposals to charge for the recovery of costs associated with breaches of health & safety.

Responding to the government consultation which closed this week, EEF has urged the government to now wait until the recommendations of the Lofstedt Review of Health & Safety are published before setting out firm proposals.

In its’ response, EEF recognises the need for HSE to meet some of the shortfall in its funding. EEF also supports the principle that those who fail to manage health & safety responsibly should pay through a form of cost recovery.

However, EEF warned of the risk that some companies who are acting responsibly but, have made minor oversights, will now be treated in the same manner as those who have behaved irresponsibly and face the same level of cost recovery.

As such, EEF believes any cost recovery system should only apply where the ‘material breach’ leads to an improvement or prohibition notice or, where as a result of a visit or investigation legal proceedings are implemented. This would deliver a clear division between chargeable and non-chargeable interventions.

EEF also believes it is not adequate for the definition of a ‘material’ or technical breach to be solely determined by the opinion of an inspector and that far greater transparency is needed if the new process is seen to be impartial, transparent and independent of HSE.

“Manufacturers will support the clear principle of intervention where there is a ‘material’ breach of the law and that those who fail to manage health and safety responsibly should pay a form of cost recovery," EEF Head of Health & Safety Policy, Terry Woolmer, said.

“But they also believe that enforcement should be targeted towards those who do not manage significant risks. As it stands the proposals are not sufficiently objective and transparent in differentiating between those failing to manage health and safety and those who are acting responsibly, but have made some oversights. Failure to strike this clear balance in any implementation of cost recovery may damage relations between the regulator and Business.”

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