What should the Health and Safety landscape look like post-Brexit?

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EEF is currently conducting a survey to find out the manufacturing sector’s inner most thoughts about the current UK Health and Safety regulatory landscape and what the sector thinks it should look like post-Brexit.

Is the manufacturing sector over regulated? 

There are important choices to be made. Businesses may believe that it is better to retain the existing H&S acquis, i.e. business as normal, when we leave the EU.  Equally, businesses may believe that there are specific hazards in the workplace which have been overregulated, because the actual risks to workers are extremely small. 

 

In our previous survey almost 8 in 10 companies said that they had experienced an increase in time spent on health and safety compliance in the past 3 years

 

Alternatively, is it just a case of reviewing and improving existing regulation and making what we have much clearer so that businesses, especially SMEs, understand and implement their legal obligations? 

Manufacturers of consumer products and industrial equipment

The EU is also responsible for the development of UK legislation which places requirements on manufacturers to ensure products are safe and fit for purpose, through a range of technical and legal safety and design requirements, culminating in CE marks.

What happens to the CE process when the UK leaves Europe? Again the UK can, for the time being, decide to continue its ‘business as usual’. Longer term, however, should the UK continue to engage in the wider international community to develop common European (CEN & CENELEC) and International (ISO) standards?
These issues are important, and will have to be considered as the UK separates from the EU. However, we cannot let Brexit obscure domestic issues that may exist; it is important that the voice of manufacturers is heard here too. 

Health and Safety regulation

Previous research by EEF in 2012 showed that industry’s relationship with regulators was positive overall (55%) with most companies seeing inspectors as helpful (63%).  But this was before the HSE’s Fee for Intervention programme, which has now been in place for over 5 years, and before the introduction of higher court fines that could have significant impact on companies if they find themselves subject to prosecution.

It’s therefore important to readdress the state of this relationship and the impact of these changes.

  • Does industry feel it can approach the Health and Safety Executive for advice, or does industry avoid doing this in case it precipitates further workplace inspections, and potentially further cost? 
  • Is it legitimate for regulators to charge for their time putting matters right in the workplace if they find ‘material’ breaches of health and safety legislation?  
  • Are higher fines the best way of improving health and safety standards in the workplace, or should we be considering alternatives?

Have your say

If you are a manufacturing company and would like to have your say on these issues please contact Kieren Liu at kliu@eef.org.uk. EEF welcome both EEF members and non-members.

 

Author

Head of Health and Safety Policy

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