U.K. packaging companies likely to face increased scrutiny, fines for health and safety inspections that find 'material breach,' under new Fee for Intervention scheme that is slated to take effect April 6, advise legal experts

LOS ANGELES , February 21, 2012 () – A new Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme that is slated to take effect in the U.K. on April 6 could see health and safety inspections and fines for packaging companies increase, advise legal experts, reported Packaging News on Feb. 21.

Currently, there are no charges if a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector visits a facility, but under the new FFI rule they will charge £124 (US$196) for each hour of work where they identify a “material breach,” said David Beckenham, an associate with the law firm Norton Rose.

It is unclear what HSE defines as a “material breach.”

The HSE also will recover any costs it incurs under such interventions, such as for sending letters and notices, Packaging News reported.

Although the HSE has proposed implementing the FFI scheme from April 6, ministerial approval is still needed and the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2010 might have to be amended.

HSE inspectors might be more likely or even encouraged to initiate formal action against companies and to recovery the costs of doing so, as the HSE’s budget was recently trimmed by 35%, said Beckenham, reported Packaging News.

Companies should prepare to negotiate with inspectors to avoid any formal action being started, said Beckenham. However, if the FFI scheme is invoked, companies should resolve the problem as soon as possible.

The best strategy is for companies to remain in compliance with regulatory requirements, which “can minimize legal risks and the cost consequences,” said Norton Rose partner Caroline May.

The primary source of this article is Packaging News, Croydon, England, on Feb. 21, 2012.

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