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HSE plans to recover millions from lawbreaking employers

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) plans to recover up to £40 million from employers who are breaking health and safety laws.

Liverpool workplace health organisation Health@Work is warning employers to get on top of their health and safety issues or face huge bills.

James Dunningham, operations director for Health@Work, said: "The HSE has lost more than £40 million in Government funding and is aiming to recoup some of this from the Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme.

"This is a cost recovery scheme where firms that break health and safety laws will be charged for the HSE's time spent on inspecting and investigating the matter."

The FFI scheme came into force in October last year and is now starting to be used on a nationwide scale. Under the scheme, those who break health and safety laws are liable for the HSE's costs. The HSE can charge firms for the time it has to spend on inspection, investigation and enforcement.

Dunningham said: "All businesses are vulnerable to this new initiative. Your health and safety executive inspector can visit your workplace at any time, so it is vital to ensure that you are fully compliant with all health and safety policy procedures.

"The FFI has already recovered thousands of pounds from organisations who are breaking health and safety laws, so if you are unsure about correct procedures it is important to seek advice."

The HSE has reported that the total sum it charged from October and November 2012 was £727,644.81. This arose from 1,418 invoices.

Dunningham added: "The Government believes FFI will encourage businesses to comply in the first place with procedures or put matters right quickly. It will also discourage businesses who think they can undercut their competitors by not complying with the law and putting people at risk."