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COMAH Charging Review Group

Minutes of the Meeting 5 September 2000


Dr Fullam acting Chairman, HSE

Industry Members

Mr Ian McPherson - UKPIA
Mr John Holding - BCDTA
Mr Kevin Dixon-Jackson - CIA
Mr John Danton - LPGA
Mr Clive Musgrave - BG Transco

HSE Members

Mr Neil Stone
Mr Victor Isenwater
Mr Mark Reyland
Mr Ian Travers

EA Members

Mr Roger Hyde
Mr Ian James
Mr Wil Huntley

TU Members

Mr Nigel Bryson - GMB
Mr Jim Mowatt - TGWU

SEPA Members

Mr John Ford

Apologies were received from:

Mr Dan Mitchell - HSE
Mr Tom Fidell - LPGA
Mr Roy Robertson - CBI
Mr Peter Sargent - HSE


Mr D Rosen - Component Feasibility Study Project Team

  1. Dr Fullam welcomed members to the third meeting of the Review Group and in particular to new members Jim Mowatt and Nigel Bryson and to David Rosen who was attending as an observer from the Component Feasibility Study Project.
  2. The CBI nomination of Mr Logan Colbeck, Quality Director, BOC Gases to represent the bottled gas industry was accepted. The secretary will contact Mr Colbeck inviting him to the next meeting
  3. The minutes and Action Notes of the 18 January were agreed.

Action: HSE

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Minutes of the meeting of 18 January 2000

Matters Arising

EA:Breakdown of 1999/00 hourly rate by 28 January 2000 - completed.
CA:Hourly rate for 2000/01 to be issued within two to three weeks - completed.
CBI:Alternative SME representation. Mr L Colbeck Bottled Gas industry representative nominated as an alternative to a SME representative.
HSE:Benchmarking study: several candidate organisations have been contacted and are interested in participating in the review. However, there is a certain degree of reluctance to release information. Progress to be reported to next meeting. Action: HSE
All:Comments revised Guide to COMAH Charges by 4 February, 2000 - completed.
HSE:Changes to the Guide should be highlighted up in the Introduction to the Guide so that operators were made aware of the key changes - completed.
CA:Progress on information on Invoices: paper 2000/22 sets out the progress on this work. An improved level of basic information is now provided for each invoice. Further improvements will follow the introduction of HSE's new work recording system.
HSE:Accuracy of invoices: reference to be made in the Guide to Charges to work recording procedures so that operators could be assured that there were systems in place to ensure accuracy of invoices - completed.
CA:To provide members with workload estimates within 1 month - completed.
ALL:Complaints and Disputes Procedure: comments on the proposals by 18 February - completed.
ALL:Component Feasibility Project: nominations for representatives on the Project Board - completed.
ALL:Evaluation of Charging: comments on the proposals by the end of January- completed.
SPD:COMAH Cost Benefit Analysis to the LPGA - completed.

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Chairman's Report

1.The Chairman presented the report on the operation of the charging scheme in 1999/2000 (paper 2000/20) and provided details of the volume of work completed, number of invoices issued and the level of queries and disputes. A summary is provided at Annex 1.

2.Individual Memoranda Trading Accounts were presented for HSE, EA and SEPA. These are reproduced at Annex 2. HSE's account showed a slight deficit of £k for the accounting period which indicated that the 1999/2000 hourly rate should have been £104. EA showed a deficit of £500 which included lower travel and subsistence costs than expected balanced by higher capital charges. SEPA had an £18k deficit on £80k through put due mainly to a lower level of COMAH activity than originally planned coupled with a high level of recruitment The CA will not seek to recover these shortfalls in the following year.

3.Mr Isenwater stressed the need for operators to adhere to the standard terms of payment as delays in settling accounts lead to higher administrative and interest costs. He reported that the level of queries and disputed invoices has dropped from initially something in the order of 37% to between 14 -17%. Most queries are now being resolved at the administrative level with only 1-2% being referred to Level 2 or 3 in the Disputes Procedure.

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Disputes Procedure

4.Mr Stone reported on the operation of the Queries and Disputes procedure since its introduction in March 2000. COMAH was the first regime covered but now the same procedure was in place for all new charging regimes operated by HSE. The procedure was necessary to ensure a speedy, fair and informal way of resolving disputed invoices.

5.The early experience is that operators are concerned about the policy and principles of charging and it was this, rather than the amount of the invoice itself, which was more likely to lead to query or dispute. He reported that there had been a request in three cases so far for consideration at Level 3 - formal disputes panel. He stated that the decisions of the panel would form a precedent and would serve to clarify the policy and boundaries. The CA will take recovery action, including recovery through the courts if necessary, should the duty holder refuse to pay the outstanding charge having exhausted the procedure without success.

6.Mr Stone advised members that the Industry-Wide Charging Review Group would review the operation of the disputes procedure at the October meeting.

7.Mr Musgrave asked how operational practice would take account of the outcomes of the panel. Mr Stone assured members that where appropriate necessary changes in policies and practices would be incorporated into instructions and guidance used by the CA.

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Industry-Wide Charging Review Group, ICRG

8.Mr Stone reported on the first meeting of the ICRG was held in May 2000. The CCRG industry representatives were Mr Fidell, Mr Robinson and Mr Musgrave. The Terms of Reference had been agreed and reports received from the chairs of each review group. The main business of the IWRG would be to oversee the 2 year evaluation and review of charging as HSE had committed to reporting to ministers on the effectiveness of charging and in particular to reporting on the effects on the relationship between HSE and duty holders.

9.The ICRG reported progress on charging to the Health and Safety Commission and members had noted progress to date and expressed their appreciation for the work of the charging review groups and the measures HSE had put in place to discuss issues with industry and employee representatives.

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Business Improvement Plan

10.The Secretary presented paper 2000/21 outlining the progress on business improvement. The main progress was in providing early feed back to operators on improvements to information provided in safety reports and on work to develop HSE's new work recording system. The Secretary also reported on the progress with the review of HSE's Installation Report form which was being linked to the work recording system in order to streamline the time taken in recording the outcomes of regulatory activities.

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Component Feasibility Study

11.The secretary reported on progress with the feasibility study and outlined the latest stage of the emerging model. It was felt that this had reached a level of refinement that could not be improved within the timescale of the project and there was broad agreement within the project team that the model correctly reflected the factors determining regulatory effort for assessment and inspection. The secretary reported on the range of issues requiring further work and development prior to the eventual introduction of any alternative method of charging. The next stage was to draft the final report and to consult HSE Solicitors on the legality of the proposals and determine the options for invoicing periods. Following this the project board will consider the final report in December with recommendations on the outcome of the project presented to the CCRG early in 2001.

12.Should the recommendations be accepted an implementation project would have to follow in order to develop solutions to the unresolved issues and then to consult on the detailed proposals. This work would require early clearance by the HSC and the Agencies management boards.

13.Members felt that the project had made good progress and that the early indications were that industry was likely to support a move to a components scheme.

Any other business

14.Mr Hyde highlighted the series of reviews of the EA. Following on from the Select Committee review was a financial management and policy review, which was likely to include examination of the costs and daily rate, charged for inspectors. This may have implications for the other parties in the CA.

15.The next meeting would be held in March 2001 in London.

Annex 1

Summary of COMAH chargeable work 1999/2000

Number of COMAH TT Establishments - 457

Number of COMAH TT Establishments - 946


Activity HSE EA SEPA Total
Defer 11 14   25
Domino 2     2
Enforcement 588.5 11.5 5 605
Inspection 14,015.5 96 12  
Investigation 1,617 57.5 3.5 1,678
Limit Info 7     7
Prohibition 31.5     31.5
Register 89.5 11 4.5 105
Safety Report Assessment 3,155 287.5 189 3,631.5
Total 19,517 477.5 214 20,208.5
Invoice Total £s 1,990,734 48,705 18,404 2,057,843

Invoices to cover the hours shown in the table above were issued over the four quarters of the financial year with the last invoices being issued in May 2000 for quarter ending 31 March 2000.

Average duration of inspection - 27.97 hrs

Average duration of investigation - 209.75 hrs

Ratio of contact to non contact inspection time1 - TT 1:1.5, LT 1:1.67

Summary of COMAH chargeable work 1st quarter 2000/01

Activity HSE EA SEPA Total
Defer 2.5     2.5
Domino 0.5     0.5
Enforcement 186 23 21 230
Inspection 1,877 21.5 3 1,901.5
Investigation 507 9.5 16.5 533
Limit Info   1   1
Prohibition 3     3
Register 15 1 0.5 16.5
Safety Report Assessment 3,106 390 35.5 3,531.5
Total 5,697 446 76.5 6,219.5
Invoice Total £s £592,488.00 £46,384.00 £6,655.50 £645,527.50
Invoicing Information April - June 99 July - Sept 99 Oct - Dec 99 Jan - Mar 00 Total April - June 00
No.Issued 129 301 387 367 1,184 305
Value £137,496 £530,298 £618,222 £704,718 £1,990,734 £645,528
No.Queried 84 154 102 24 364 13
% Queried 65 51 26 6.5 30.7 4.26
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
No. of cases carried forward from the previous financial year 0 9 1
No. of cases received during the year (for level 2 cases the number of cases which entered the system at Level 2) since 1.4.00 21 14 2
No. of cases resolved during the year 10 5 2
Number found in favour of HSE     1
Number found in favour of dutyholder     1

Annex 2

Environment Agency 1999/2000 Rate
Forecast Outturn
£ % £ %
Gross salaries of staff actually carrying out COMAH work and their managers and support staff 51 50 57 55
General admin. Expenditure 19 18.5 11 11
Corporate services 11 11 11 11
Operational management and strategy 19 18.5 20 19
Capital charges 2 2 4 4
Total hourly rate 102 100 103 100
HSE 1999/2000 Rate
Forecast Outturn
£ % £ %
Gross salaries of staff actually carrying out COMAH work and their managers and support staff 52 51 50 48
General admin. Expenditure 13 13 14 13
Corporate services
Operational management and strategy 21 20 23 22
Capital charges 4 4 2 2
Total hourly rate 102 100 103 100
Outturn Memorandum Trading Account
Income     1,991,142  
Gross salaries of staff actually carrying out COMAH work and their managers and support staff     971,376  
General admin. Expenditure     266,252  
Corporate services     316,976  
Operational management and strategy     443,303  
Capital charges     34,508  
Deficit     (41,273)  

1 This relates to the second half of 1999/00 when records of contact and non contact time started.

Updated on HSE website 03 December 2003

Updated 2015-08-27