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According to a recent report produced under the guidance of an independent review panel (which included representatives from the GMB Union and Federation of Small Businesses) the Health and Safety Executive’s controversial costs recovery scheme has, in its first 18 months, proved effective.

However, what the report has to say about how many businesses actually query a Fee for Intervention (FFI) invoice only serves to reinforce my concern about what might be a ticking time bomb for unsuspecting businesses.

The report found that the average invoice rendered by the HSE (up to the end of January 2014) was £502 – equivalent to about four hours work by an HSE Inspector. Only 3.3{ba3215b0bf35eaeb06be458b3396ffbfc50bb9db10c9ff1594dfc3875e90ea48} of invoices were queried by businesses – the main reason given for not doing so was cost.

It is totally understandable why a business might take a commercial view to pay the invoice, especially when the typical amount hovers around the £500 mark. However, businesses should resist the urge to just pay up until they have considered a) the prospects of successfully challenging the invoice and b) the potential implications of not doing so (which includes possible reference to the payment in future civil or criminal proceedings or in tenders – see my blog “HSE Costs Recovery Scheme – do you know what it means for your business?”). Having gone through that process, the commercial view might well be to invest in challenging the invoice in order to protect the future bottom line and reputation of the business.

If you need help with the Fee for Intervention scheme or any other health and safety matter, then please contact me.