By Daniel Hunter

Give employers more support and better education on health and safety to help them comply with the law - a leading professional body said.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) wants improvements in the resources available for smaller businesses and organisations, as part and parcel of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) new Fees for Intervention (FFI) scheme, launched today.

Under FFI, those who break health and safety laws are now liable for recovery of the regulator’s costs, including inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action.

IOSH welcomes the scheme in principle, as a way of transferring enforcement costs from the tax-payer to the transgressor. The Institution believes this can help ‘level the playing field’ and support the business case for health and safety compliance.

But the scheme is only fair if businesses are given the right level of backing to comply, IOSH said.

Speaking at the Labour Party Conference 2012, in Manchester, IOSH Head of Policy and Public Affairs Richard Jones said: “Our message for business is ‘do the right thing and protect your staff and business and you’ll avoid cost recovery’.

“But to those disregarding the law we say, ‘not only are you putting your staff and business at risk and could face prosecution and sanctions, but also, from today, you will have to pay HSE costs, which could be thousands of pounds’.”

Mr Jones said FFI should be monitored and reviewed to ensure it operates as planned and that there are no unintended negative consequences.

“For example, we would be concerned if this scheme led to greater under-reporting of work-related accidents, or put duty holders off seeking regulator advice,” he said.

“We have also called for more government support and better education to help businesses comply with health and safety law.

“In operating this scheme, the HSE will need to ensure consistency and proportionality, and that constructive and effective duty holder/regulator relationships are maintained.”

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