Brexit – What Changes to Health and Safety Legislation Can We Expect?

A question that is often asked is whether we are likely to see a lot of health and safety legislation changed after Brexit. The short answer is ‘no’, because the UK is recognised worldwide as being the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to health and safety matters.

Indeed, the HSE is considered a highly effective regulator, and their expertise is often sought overseas.

Since the Repeal Bill was introduced into Parliament, it has been under discussion in the House of Lords, having gone through the House of Commons. The purpose of the Repeal Bill is to repeal the European Communities Act, but as doing that would cause a legislative problem, the Repeal Bill proposes to reintroduce all existing EU legislation – around 12,000 pieces of EU regulation – into UK legislation to ensure a smooth transition the day after Brexit.

The Government says that by doing this, it will avoid a ‘black hole in our statute book’, preventing disruption to businesses and individuals, as well as ensuring the continuity of trade negotiations as the UK will already meet their regulations. This also enables the UK Parliament to change and improve legislations later in a timely fashion, after March 2019, to better suit UK law.

Most of the UK’s health and safety legislation was not made under the European Communities Act. In fact, the current regulatory system was established under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974, and although it may have arisen from compliance with EU Directives, the legislation was made under a British Statute, which is not being altered.

Laura Cameron, Partner and Head of the Risk Advisory Services Group at Pinsent Masons, wrote, “While disengagement from the EU may well involve a process of determining which primary and secondary health and safety legislation remains socially or economically useful to the UK, potentially leading to changes to some regulations and the stripping away of others, a wholesale lowering of standards is unlikely. On the contrary, if we wish to continue to trade with the EU, the likelihood is that standards will be maintained.”

Ian Clements, MD of Quadriga Health & Safety said, “We shouldn’t see any immediate change as a result of leaving the EU. Clearly, there may be a desire to change some of the more bureaucratic requirements which have arisen from the EU Directives but the Government and others are quite committed to a legislative framework which maintains high standards of health and safety in the UK, which we had long before we joined the EU.” You can hear more of Ian’s thoughts in this video.

For more information on health and safety in the workplace, or to be kept up to date with latest legislation, please call Quadriga on 0118 929 9920 or click here to email us.

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