21 March 2014

A partner at a law firm that specialises in corporate risks has warned that fines imposed for health and safety and other regulatory cases are “progressively increasing”.

Writing in a post for Hiscox’ Informed: Small Business Blog, Helen Grimberg, a Partner in the Safety, Health and Environment team at Berrymans Lace Mawer, highlights four current key areas that might impact small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as:

  • the Fee for Intervention (FFI) system, introduced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in October 2012

  • the new portal system for personal injury claims, in place since 1 August 2013 and designed to speed up the process

  • the abolition of civil liability for breaches of health and safety law

  • risk assessments for safe working.

On the subject of the FFI and the HSE’s associated charging rate of £124 per hour, Helen Grimberg says, “The FFI scheme is gathering pace and it has been estimated that between a quarter and a third of inspections have established a material breach. Figures suggest that the revenue generated for the HSE was more than £5.5 million in the first year of the scheme.”

Commenting on the new portal system, Ms Grimberg stressed the importance of the portal deadlines of 30 to 40 days from an accident. She said, “For example, having simple documents, such as the accident book entry/first aider report, ready to go promptly following an incident, could save many thousands of pounds in legal costs.”

Describing the abolition of civil liability for breaches of health and safety law as “welcome good news for SMEs,” she also highlighted the importance of risk assessments in recent case law, noting that, “It is impossible to completely eliminate risk from the workplace, and businesses are not expected to do so. A pragmatic and common-sense approach is often enough.”