Arinite Blog



Category: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards Twitter | Published on: Jan 29, 2019 | Updated: Jan 31, 2019 Read more: Health & Safety

Brexit health and safety – the elephant in the room

One question frequently asked of H&S professionals these days is the likely impact of Brexit on Britain’s health & safety landscape?

If, like us, you have found it impossible to escape the endless manoeuvring of politicians and speculation by media commentators – don’t worry; it’s not the intention of this month’s blog to muddy those waters any further.  After all, what insights could health & safety professionals add to an immensely intractable issue when even the negotiators can’t predict the outcome of the overall deal?

Possible Outcome?

We can however offer a pointer as to a possible outcome for health & safety standards.

As the first country to industrialise, and therefore the first country to introduce health and safety legislation backed up by an enforcement regime, the UK is rightly proud of its occupational health & safety record.  Eurostat accident at work statistics consistently show the UK as having one of Europe’s best workplace incident rates:

Since before Dickensian times, it has taken countless decades of cultural change to achieve this impressive record and – in a democracy – public opinion, the media and the unions are not going to let us slip from our pedestal position any time soon.

In fact, the Health & Safety Executive has already established a position, and even set up a Government ‘no deal’ guidance page on its website.

Here, the HSE states:

Whatever deal the UK leaves the EU with, or in the event of no-deal, HSE’s approach to regulation is to preserve the UK’s high standards in health and safety and to continue to protect people and the environment.”  So far as chemical safety is concerned, the HSE is already committed to sustaining EU standards, whatever the outcome of Brexit talks.

HM Government has also published draft legislation to ensure that EU-derived health and safety protections will continue to be available in domestic law after the UK has left the EU – The Health and Safety (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018.

Keep Calm and Carry On

The writing on the wall is pretty unequivocal, then.  Don’t throw away those risk assessments, or stop performing DSE workstation assessments, or start buying cheap unmarked PPE from developing countries just yet.

As far as health & safety is concerned, it’s going to be “business as usual” after Brexit Day on 29th March 2019 – and most likely for a good number of years beyond that, too.

Think about it: if EU countries want to continue buying British goods after Brexit, they will want to know that those goods have been ethically sourced, and not made on their doorstep by dangerous, polluting, cut-price industries across the Channel.  And, for that matter, so should we.

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