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HSE Serves FFI Notice on Itself

Posted on August 27, 2019

The Health & Safety Executive has revealed that it has been required to serve a notice of contravention on itself. The notice was there for all to see in their 2018/19 annual report. Showing that there was not a suitable and sufficient risk assessment performed at their laboratory in Buxton, Derbyshire. “It’s rather absurd that the Health and Safety Executive have slapped themselves with a warning notice”. “It would be comical if it wasn’t so serious”, is how Liberal Democrat MP ED Davey described the situation.

The Health and Safety Laboratory is the HSE’s largest test facility. Often used to stress test the latest workplace equipment to ensure it is safe for commercial use. It has also been used to perform experiments to find the causes of major accidents. Including the Potters Bar and Ladbroke Grove rail disasters. It is the ideal location for this not only due to the size of the facility. But also because of the purpose built railway used for investigating explosions on trains.

Further exploration into the cause of the breach revealed that it was problems with one of the experimental work areas which has caused this embarrassment for the HSE. However, according to the report, the regulator was happy with the actions taken to improve the situation at the laboratory. And will return to review the developments some time in the following year.

This is not the first time the Buxton testing facility has made the news. In December 2017 the HSE was forced to issue itself with a Crown Censure following an accident during a pressure test. An employee was seriously injured while setting up a pressure testing rig. Hydrogen gas escaped during the process of filling a test vessel. This then ignited, injuring an employee who was close to the vessel.

Decrease in FFI Notices Issued

Also contained in the report is the news that, despite issuing one to themselves, the income from Fee for Intervention invoices dropped in 2018/19. This stood at £15.05 million in 2017/18, and fell to £14.14 million in 2018/19. A reduction in income of 6%. However, because of the increase in the hourly rate of an inspector, the costs of running the scheme dropped from £1.9 million in 2017/18 to £1.5 million in 2018/19.

Next years report will make for interesting reading, and not just to see if the HSE again is forced to issue themselves with a FFI notice. Would further drops in income from FFI notices indicate that health and safety standards are increasing across the country?

The HSE annual report also contained the workplace fatality figures for 2018/19. A detailed breakdown on these figures can be found in our blog post here.

Health & Safety Advice and its Importance

The workplace fatality figures, and the amount paid in FFI invoices, shows just how important it is to manage workplace health and safety risks correctly. If you need advice on how to perform risk assessments, write a health and safety policy, perform site inspections, or any other health and safety related matter. Contact us to speak to one of our expect advisers.

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