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Brexit should not trigger OSH law review, says EEF

There should be no immediate changes to EU-derived health and safety laws after the UK leaves the union according to a new report from manufacturing trade body the EEF.

Brexit should not trigger OSH law review, says EEF

The entire “acquis” of OSH legislation made under the EU framework directive should be transposed wholesale into UK statute, says the EEF.

“Most UK health and safety law derived from EU directives has been in place for many years and is embedded in company investment decisions, company policies, management systems, safe systems of work and working practices,” says the body in its report Britain and the EU: Manufacturing an Orderly Exit.  

“Fundamental change is likely to be extremely disruptive to those businesses who use health and safety performance as one important aspect of their corporate social responsibility credentials.”

Asked about obstacles to trading with the rest of the world, EEF member organisations rated health and safety as the lowest barrier behind eight other factors including language, product standards and banking arrangements.

The EEF represents 6,000 UK manufacturing and engineering businesses. It says that once the UK has separated from the EU there is scope for individual safety and health regulations and other laws to be reviewed by government.

“The UK could move away from the so-called EU precautionary principle towards a more flexible legislative environment with regulation only where absolutely necessary,” says the report.

There is no need for urgent revision of EU-derived OSH law, the EEF says, because the framework directive was inspired by the UK’s own Health and Safety at Work Act.

“Member states are free to adopt stricter rules for the protection of workers when transposing EU directives into national law,” it says. “Therefore, legislative requirements in the field of safety and health at work can vary across EU Member States with some countries imposing higher standards on their industries. In the UK there is very little evidence of so called gold-plating in this area.

“This is particularly true of multinational businesses, which in many cases have adopted the UK’s health and safety model as the baseline standard for operations both in and outside Europe.”

“The dangers of a hasty Brexit are clear and nowhere is this more evident than when looking at the wealth of EU environmental regulations and directives, many of which have supported better behaviours and outcomes,” said Claire Jakobsson, EEF’s head of energy and environment policy, “but have also involved considerable investment. A mass repeal would be costly and disruptive, and would seriously undermine investment – all bad news for business.”


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  • There is a need for change as

    Permalink Submitted by Dale Banham CMIOSH FIIRSM RSP OHSCR on 28 September 2016 - 08:06 am

    There is a need for change as in Construction the small employer/employee is being strangled and put out of business by CSCS/CITB/UKCG/Union controls imposed. These are imposed through clients/principle contractors under temporary works directive (CDM) using levy and cscs schemes whereby the funds paid go back to the UKCG and unions. The small employers are having to low tender and have conditions imposed in order to get the work and subsequently loose if they dont and struggle if they do as many are financially broken thereafter. The HASWA act require reasonable and cost benefit, there is nothing reasonable with the CDM-CSCS-CITB arrangements just ITIS Section 2 without due consideration for cost benefit to small SMEs'. A total rethink required as many are totally frustrated and having to aly off workers due to latest government levy on very small SMEs not working to large UKCG PC or accreditation schemes.

  • Load of rubbish. A full H&S

    Permalink Submitted by Steven Nagle on 28 September 2016 - 12:36 pm

    Load of rubbish. A full H&S law review is a good idea whether we are in or out, putting it all in context against the culture and climate of 2015, not just presuming it will be okay. Might be able to shove the new CDM regs out the window and not have to worry so much about the escalating costs of small projects as a result of their implementation.

  • Agreed. A re-write of CDM

    Permalink Submitted by SEHAS Ltd on 28 September 2016 - 12:50 pm

    Agreed. A re-write of CDM 2015 may help SME's, albeit that larger Conglomerates are having no trouble with compliance as it is relatively straightforward.
    SME's (if pro-active) have access to huge amounts of HSE advice for free largely but many choose the route of ingorance in this regard.
    The CPP template is probably the simplest document ever produced and yet it is once again largely ignored by SME's. Why ?

  • Many small companies and

    Permalink Submitted by David on 9 November 2016 - 05:20 pm

    Many small companies and individuals are desperate to reduce the burden on themselves, e.g. From CDM regs.

    However, if they look up and smell the roses, most of the serious recent custodial sentences, have gone to small companies where the directors "flout the law" in the pusuance of profit.

    When you walk down the street you see lots of breaches of HS laws on small construction sites.......

    If I was running one of these small sites I'd be very keen to ensure that I knew exactly what was expected. After all it isn't really the HSE you need to worry about. Its the new sentencing guidelines pushed by the legal brigade who have helped to establish a "gold plated" prosecution scheme, way in excess and anti-business in the UK.

    This is going to remain, regardless of any post Brexit law tinkering.

    My advice. Learn the law and use the resources of HSE and CITB. Pushing back is quite frankly, really stupid. Protect thyself!


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