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Scrap plans to charge small firms for health and safety inspections, urges FPB

One of the UK’s leading business groups is urging the Government to consider scrapping plans to force small businesses to pay for their own health and safety inspections.

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) is concerned that under the ‘Fee for Intervention’ proposals, with effect from October 2012 those firms that are found to be in ‘material breach’ of health and safety regulations by the Health and Safety Executive will have to pay inspectors’ full hourly rates from the moment the inspection begins, regardless of when a breach is identified.

The business group believes that while businesses which deliberately flout health and safety rules should be brought to task, many business owners feel the new approach will be unfair and could lead to inconsistency between individual inspectors.

Phil Orford, FPB Chief Executive, said, ‘The delicate balance of trust between small businesses and regulators, which has shown tentative signs of improving recently, could be further complicated by what subjectively constitutes a ‘material breach’ according to different inspectors, creating in all likelihood a postcode lottery for businesses concerning health and safety compliance and enforcement’.

According to the FPB, administering health and safety costs the UK’s smallest employers in the region of £3.8bn a year.