Following the end of the transition period, the UK has formally left the EU. We look at the rules and procedures that may affect the health and safety sector.
The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 transferred EU-derived laws into UK law, meaning workers continue to have the same workplace protections. Employees settled in the UK for more than five years can apply for ‘settled status’ which will grant them the same rights as British citizens – but they must apply by 30 June 2021. If they continue to work in the UK after this date without having made the application they will be doing so illegally.
There are also some changes to safety legislation to be aware of.
The chemicals industry
Some regulations have changed in England, Wales and Scotland (separate rules exist for Northern Ireland). The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued guidance on regulating chemicals, specifically authorisation of biocidal substances and products; classification, labelling and packaging of substances and chemicals; prior informed consent; pesticides or plant protection products; and registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH).
The EU REACH Regulation was brought into UK law on 1 January 2021. This is known as UK REACH. Duty holders must ensure that they meet the relevant duties under both UK and EU REACH if their business is supplying or purchasing substances, mixtures or articles to and from:
- the European Union (EU)
- the European Economic Area (EEA)
- Northern Ireland (NI)
- Great Britain (GB) (England, Scotland and Wales)
There may be actions to take to maintain or gain access to these markets. In addition, the role previously undertaken within EU REACH may have changed significantly under UK REACH so it’s important to review it.
For a crash course on the key changes in chemical safety legislation, join IOSH magazine's next webinar on 26 January. Register here.
What else has changed?
The manufacture and supply of new work equipment intended for the UK market must comply with the requirements of all applicable UK legislation, which require UKCA marking instead of CE marking. However, products in conformity with relevant European product supply legislation and correctly bearing the CE marking will (until 31 December 2021) be treated as satisfying the requirements of the relevant UK legislation and need not bear UK marking.
More coverage on the impact of Brexit is available here.
Outlining IOSH’s aim to continue to help ensure that health and safety standards are protected and enhanced under the new UK-EU trade agreement and any new arrangements that emerge, IOSH’s head of health and safety, Ruth Wilkinson said: 'Following Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, IOSH encourages all parties to focus on safe and healthy operations that protect workers wherever they are, support COVID-19 recovery and provide post-transition stability. Workforces and citizens across UK and Europe need decision-makers to manage risks to physical and mental health and wellbeing, and to build back better and healthier.
'As a Chartered professional body, charity and international NGO, IOSH has global reach and works multilaterally for a safe and healthy world of work. We and the OSH profession operate worldwide across all sectors and IOSH is well-placed to provide guidance on issues to protect lives, livelihoods and economies, including on change management, prevention through design, business continuity and supply chains.'
You can learn more about this by reading how IOSH's response to the European Commission's EU Trade policy review last year went beyond Brexit here.