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Leaving Europe – what are the health and safety implications?

Category: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards Twitter | Published on: May 27, 2016 | Updated: Jun 1, 2017 Read more: Health & Safety

brexitOn 23rd June the country votes whether or not to leave the EU. British exit (Brexit) campaigners have argued that outside the EU, the UK will have the freedom to initiaite its own legislation and not be in the position of implementing disproportionate regulations.

What are the implications for H&S legislation?

Although a number of health and safety regulations have been made under European Community Act (ECA), many were made under the UK’s Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act 1974. Others, such as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Agency Worker Regulations 2010, were made under both the ECA and the HSW Act.

If the UK left the EU and repealed the ECA, H&S regulations made just under H&S law would not be affected, but the position of regulations made under both the ECA and UK legislation may require a legal review. This may take several years and the Government may decide to maintain a significant amount of EU law in force in national law. So in practice there may be little change in the law.

What H&S legislation may be targeted?

A 2014 report by the Department for Work and Pensions (IOSH Magazine) criticised the EU in the following areas of H&S legislation. This gives an idea what a Government, post exit, may wish to change.

  • Increase flexibility for member states to determine written risk assessment requirements for “small, low-risk” business.
  • Repeal the artificial optical radiation Directive.
  • Repeal the requirement in the display screen equipment Directive for employers to meet the costs of eye and eyesight tests.
  • Exclude private householders from the duties on construction project clients in the temporary or mobile worksites Directive, implemented as the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 in the UK.
  • Modify the chemical agents Directive to provide member states with the flexibility to determine in what circumstances duty holders should provide information on their emergency arrangements to the emergency services.
  • Remove the duplication of provisions in the Framework Directive and “individual” directives relating to risk assessment, health surveillance, protective and preventive services, employee consultation and participation, and the provision of information, training and instruction to employees.

Conclusion

The strength of the UK’s H&S regulatory framework is widely acknowledged. In the event of a “No” vote we would still need to maintain a strong trading relationship with the EU and this is likely to ensure that the existing framework would not be dismantled. However, there may be the opportunity for the further piecemeal deregulation of H&S law.

How Arinite can help

Arinite can assist in the planning, assessment and management of the health and safety aspects of international operations whether or not the UK remains in the EU. Our reputation of being flexible in our professional approach puts us in a good position to respond to future developments and changes.

Contact us

Arinite clients appreciate we provide practical, no-nonsense advice about what you need to do to establish and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. My team of health and safety consultants take pride in keeping health and safety simple.

If you need to call upon our expert assistance, or just for an informal chat, please call me on: mobile 0780 361 2948, office 0207 947 9581, or drop me a line at b.richards@arinite.com.

Bryan Richards 27th May 2016

Arinite Ltd, Warnford Court, 29 Throgmorton Street, London EC2N 2AT

 
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