Health & Safety and the EU Referendum

02 June 2016

On the 23rd June, Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU) with a majority of 52%. The result could have a direct impact on Health & Safety as we know it.

The question is now; Will UK safety standards be more tailored to UK conditions or will they continue to follow certain EU Directives?

The EU influence

The UK membership of the EU has had a large impact on our Health & Safety Law; the so called ‘six pack’ (the name given to the half dozen most quoted Health & Safety regulations) came into effect in 1992 after six European Directives were issued by the European Commission.

The six pack includes:

  • Management of Health and Safety Regulations (the Management Regulations)
  • Manual Handling
  • Display Screen Equipment
  • Workplace (Health and Safety Welfare) Regulations
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) and the PPE Regulations
  • Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM Regulations)

Director of Health & Safety at Citation, Lee Mills, comments:

“We could argue that our membership and interpretation of EU Directives lead to our goal setting legislation as opposed to the prescriptive legislation that was in place before it.

Modern legislation enables an employer, by and large, to risk assess the work activity and therefore establish the safe system of work for themselves without being dictated upon.”

Now the British public have voted to exit the EU, will our laws change overnight?

On the whole, Health & Safety laws won’t change overnight. Since the EU Directives are so ingrained on our criminal law system it would take years to unravel and any alterations to laws which affect workers’ rights would be politically difficult to negotiate.

As a previously published report, written by civil servants, says. “A vote to leave the EU would be the start, not the end, of a process. It could lead to a decade or more of uncertainty.”

In addition, if we wish to continue trading in the ‘single market’ and have access to the European Economic Area (EEA) as per Iceland, Norway and Switzerland then we may have to reciprocate by implementing certain EU Directives, including those for Health & Safety.

However, one could envision areas for more rapid amends, such as the contentious application of the Temporary and Mobile Construction Sites Directives (TMCSD) to domestic clients in the UK under our interpretation of this Directive into CDM.

We are also being reminded that Directive 2013/35/EU, which defines minimum regulations for the protection of workers from Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF), has to be incorporated into national law by the 1st of July 2016.

These might just be the beginning of Health & Safety law changes, but over time we may see more of them.

If you need help managing your Health & Safety, please call Citation today on 0345 844 1111.

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