How will Brexit impact health and safety laws?

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The UK has now left the European Union and during this transition period, we expect new arrangements for a trade deal to be negotiated, which could impact day-to-day health and safety laws currently in effect in workplaces across the country. 

The future look of British Health and Safety 

The majority of UK health and safety laws are derived from EU laws and regulations which often mirror health and safety regimes throughout the EU. The question is, how similar or different will the regime look in the coming years? The transitional negotiations will determine the look of the future health and safety system across the UK, offering the Government an opportunity to tighten and simplify laws to protect employees at work, particularly those working in higher risk industries.

Focus on high risk sectors

It won’t be a shock to hear that the most common causes for workplace fatalities over the previous years have been falls from height; being struck by moving vehicles; and being struck by moving objects. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing sectors continue to account for the majority of these fatalities.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published figures for the year 2018/2019 confirming that 147 workers were killed at work in Great Britain, an increase of 6 fatalities from the previous year. Workplace injuries and fatalities have a lasting impact on businesses and people, with regulatory investigations that can often last for years. The current regulatory system has been criticised by some as being bound by red tape. Simplifying the system to focus on safe working practices in higher risk sectors could significantly reduce fatality statistics in future years. 

Continue to manage risk in a proportionate way 

The Health and Safety (Miscellaneous) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 is now in effect, to ensure EU derived health and safety protections continue to be enforced and current legislation can still be applied. The Amendments will not change the requirements and expectations placed on UK businesses and HSE guidance is for businesses to continue to manage risk in a proportionate way.

Brexit inevitably causes uncertainty for businesses and will take some time to resolve. The transitional period is due to end on 31 December 2020. In the meantime, we advise businesses to carry on as normal, and we will continue to update you with any further developments. 

How can we help?

For questions on how to keep up with any changes that could affect your Health and Safety policies and procedures at work and how to avoid any pitfalls, please contact a member of our Regulatory Team, specialising in Health & Safety.

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