The Fee for Intervention scheme will see the Health and Safety Executive recover costs from companies caught breaking the law.
It starts from today with an hourly charge of £124 for HSE inspectors time investigating and taking enforcement action.
The scale of the charges has outraged a number of contractors.
One firm said: “What world are these people living in?
“At a time when most contractors and subbies are having to argue over charge out rates of £20 – £45 an hour, here comes your local expert at box ticking charging three or four times that.”
Gordon MacDonald, HSE’s programme director, said: “It is right that those who break the law should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right – and not the public purse.
“Firms who manage workplace risks properly will not pay.”