SINCE October 2012 the Health and Safety Executive has operated a cost recovery regime. This means that businesses are charged for the costs of a health and safety investigation from the point a material breach has been identified through to the point when a decision is made on enforcement action.

This charging scheme is known as a Fee for Intervention (FFI). This fee has now been increased, going up nearly 20 percent to £154 per hour.

Robert Gazely, farm consultant and health and safety specialist for Strutt & Parker, commented on the increase, saying: “A material breach is something which an inspector considers serious enough that they need to formally write to the business requiring action to be taken. Once an inspector gives a farmer this written notification of contravention (NoC), the farmer will be expected to pay a fee.

“From 6 April 2019, the hourly charge has been increased from £129 to £154. The final bill will be based on the total amount of time it takes the HSE inspector to identify the breach and their work to help put things right.

“Of course, the primary reason for farms to be proactive in their approach to health and safety should be to protect themselves, their families and any employees.

“The number of people who are killed and injured each year on farms remains stubbornly high and the human cost of these incidents can be incalculable to those affected.

“But taking a safety-first approach should also help farm businesses to avoid a financial hit, as the HSE fees can mount up in the event of an investigation.”