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documentary evidence of compliance. In fact, it is okay to ask the inspector to wait for a more experienced person, but not for too long. If you leave them waiting, it might look like you are hiding something.”

Melanie Blackmore, Managing Director of Blackmores, a leading provider of consultancy services specialising in quality, risk and environmental standards, echoes these opinions and claims that you should try and avoid using up the HSE’s time in the first place to avoid charges.

She said: “They are simply looking for compliance. Make sure you are able to prove it. Taking five minutes to get a team together can show a professional commitment to Health & Safety within your organisation.”

On the flipside, Ian did go on to say that a visit from the HSE isn’t always necessarily a bad thing and is often a misunderstanding. To avoid further complications – and potential charges for wasting time – he said: “The

way you deal with the enforcing visitor is critical. It can’t be a junior who deals with them. It must be someone who is knowledgeable ion dealing with this. Perhaps a company legal advisor.”

Melanie followed on from this: “The HSE has powers you don’t want to unleash on your organisation. Choose your words carefully. It’s all about communication.”

Mike Stevens, Customer Services Director of Praxis42, also had a plan for avoiding charges and says that it is not always as black and white as training: “Look at what you’re managing, decide on competency level, and make sure they know how to implement it. Letting staff on a course is not always the best point of action. You need mentors. If you don’t look, everything is okay isn’t it? You need to check, and just get on and do it. Any system is only as good as the experience, knowledge and technical input that is running it.”

Opinions in this panel were strong that the charges were absolutely going to happen,

and this continued the next day in another seminar, entitled: “Changes to Health and Safety – At what cost and to who?” hosted by Ian Fielder, previous CEO of BIFM.

Peter Hall, of SGP Property & Facilities Management Ltd said: “The HSE has to cut approximately 33% so it needs to get money from somewhere. I think the idea put forward for charging though is wrong. How will they regulate what we do and who will regulate them? As long as you put things in place, there’s room for discussion.

“They don’t want to charge but I think they will do. What worries me is the small to medium enterprises. They will struggle. Also, will local authorities jump on the bandwagon?

“The Marks & Spencer asbestos case as a recent example means that if the charges were in force, they could be hit with even more fines.”

Rob Greenfield of GSH Group plc said: “In our case, Health & Safety is just part of the


contract. We have got our own systems, and no matter what the contract, we’ve got the same system. If we got hit with charges, it would come out of the bottom line.

“I think there is a conflict of interest here. Who is going to manage the HSE? Saying that, losing a third of their budget is losing the budget to do anything proactive. We’ve got to do things ourselves.”

With plenty of food for thought, it seems as though the industry is already preparing for what appears to be an inevitable price tag for another service. After all, nothing comes for free these days. We would love to hear your thoughts on how these charges will affect your facility. You can read more on the potential changes on the HSE website by CLICKING HERE.

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