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10th January 2012

Independent panel set up to challenge HSE inspectors advice

Businesses that believe they have been the recipients of ‘over-the-top’ advice from HSE or Local Authority (LA) inspectors can now appeal these decisions to an independent panel.

The Government announced its intention to set up such a body as part of its response to the findings of the Löfstedt review in November 2011 – which called for a process to challenge cases of incorrect and over-application of health and safety legislation.

Now up and running, the new Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel will look into complaints regarding health and safety advice given by HSE or LA inspectors that business believe is “incorrect, or goes beyond what is required to control the risk adequately”.

If businesses are unhappy with the advice they have received, they are encouraged in the first instance to seek to resolve the matter with the relevant HSE or LA inspector, and the inspector’s manager. If they are not satisfied, businesses can then raise the issue with the panel by filling out an online form on the HSE website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/challenge-panel.htm) .  If they are still not satisfied with the findings of the panel, they can follow the existing complaints procedures, including writing to the chief executive of the HSE, or relevant LA chief executive, as well as contacting local MPs, or local councillors.

It should be noted that the panel will also only deal with decisions of regulatory advice to control risks, which stop short of enforcement action. Hence, the appeals mechanism is completely separate from other appeals processes that will cover costs-recovery, and which already cover enforcement notices.

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