What happens to UK health and safety now we are to leave Europe?

“We are now in a position to take it to the next level and become an even safer place to live and work”

While the UK has always been one of the safest nations, and we have undoubtedly benefited from some of the policies imposed by being part of the EU, we are now in a position to take it to the next level and become an even safer place to live and work.

There is a two-year process before the treaty ceases to apply, during which time negotiations for how the UK moves forward with trading agreements takes place. The reality is, these trade negotiations are likely to include most or all of the minimum safety standards now prevailing in member states. However, the UK will be given the opportunity to take a leaf out of Switzerland’s book and adopt “equivalent” legislation rather than applying the EU laws directly.  This will allow for independence in decision making and the ability to tailor laws to UK working conditions.

Some legislation will undoubtedly be removed, and exactly what this will be remains to be decided, but the general consensus is that the UK will be moving more towards a more deregulated climate.  Legislation such as the Management of Health & Safety at Work Act 1999 was based on EU legislation and the UK’s own Health & Safety at Work (HSW) Act 1974. How such will be affected moving forwards remains to be seen.

Leaving the EU will allow the UK to implement more innovative and responsive health and safety practices in direct correlation to the working environments in British workers are exposed to.

Nobody can yet be certain how Brexit will affect everyday workers, but one thing we can be sure of is a more UK focused and less prescriptive approach to health and safety where the UK continues to direct the future of health and safety standards, not only in Europe but across the globe.

Author – Toby Roberts – Managing Director of Safety Media Ltd


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