Health and safety fines ‘to hit £750’

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Plans for the Health and Safety Executive to charge small firms £750 or more when inspectors find a fault have been attacked by the Federation of Small Businesses.

The Federation says the charges could be seen as a way for the HSE to raise money in the face of 35 per cent budget cuts, rather than improve compliance.

To make matters worse, the HSE has refused to define what a “material breach” of standards actually is, because it says that depends on the context of the fault.

The FSB fears small firms will be unwilling to challenge fees for fear of being landed with a bigger bill if their challenge fails.

Federation regional chairman and Sheffield businessman Gordon Millward says: “The FSB has a real concern about these proposals as they stand.

“Not only could they add to the fear that many small businesses have about health and safety regulation, but they could have a serious impact on their relationship with the inspector.

“A positive relationship can help compliance to the benefit of the business and society.

“Most small businesses do not have the same resources that larger firms have to buy-in expert help. Yet they are required to be experts in a wide range of complicated regulations.

“Many small firms will see this as anti-growth.”