HSE Fee for Intervention – What is a Material Breach?

Not everyone understands that the HSE Fee for Intervention (FFI) is based on material breach (of relevant health and safety law). Further to this, many do not know what a material breach is. A material breach exists when you have broken a health and safety law and the inspector judges that it is serious enough for them to notify you in writing. This will be achieved by one of the following:

  • a notification of contravention
  • an improvement notice
  • a prohibition notice
  • a prosecution

Before deciding to notify you in writing, the inspector must apply the principles of the HSE’s Enforcement Policy Statement and the Enforcement Management Model ensure their decision on the level of enforcement action is proportionate to the circumstances that they are aware of. Typical examples of material breaches include:

  • failure to provide/use guards or effective safety devices to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery
  • an unprotected or inadequately protected fall from height
  • materials containing asbestos in a poor or damaged condition resulting in the potential to release asbestos fibres.

The HSE Inspector’s written notification will make it clear which contraventions are material breaches where a fee is payable.

It is worth noting that if you are complying with the law you won’t pay a fee.
The HSE Fee for Intervention only applies to work carried out by HSE’s inspectors. If your business is inspected for health and safety by another regulator (such as the Local Authority through their EHOs), then FFI will not apply. The HSE Fee for Intervention applies to all businesses and organisations inspected by HSE, with very few exceptions.