Barbour EHS legislation update eBook – October 2021
Since Barbour’s last legislation update in April, there has been a reopening of society following the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions in England on 19 July 2021, and in the other devolved nations shortly after. England’s government guidance for workplaces has been updated to reflect this but continues to stress the need for risk assessment and action on any risks identified to keep employees safe. The recent prosecution of a firm following an HSE COVID-19 spot check reinforces the importance of doing so.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we think about work and the workplace. Many companies are adopting hybrid working, and according to the CIPD some 40% of employers expect more than half their workforce to work regularly from home after the pandemic has ended. Organisations clearly expect flexible working to become more common, and indeed the government is currently consulting on modernising the way people work, with plans to give every employee in Great Britain the right to request flexible working.
The legislative timetable is slowly picking up following the dominance of COVID-19 in recent months; the Fire Safety Act 2021 received Royal Assent in April and the Building Safety Bill continues its journey through Parliament. The Environment Bill is to receive its third reading in the House of Lords in October, where members of the House will seek to ensure the effectiveness of the final law. In July, the new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) commenced business, ahead of being formally established later this year once the Environment Bill becomes law.
In June, we saw publication of the BSI’s 45003 Standard, which aims to help organisations prioritise people by supporting the mental health of workers. The HSE recognises that mental health issues in the workplace are a health and safety risk. As such, it falls to the employer’s duty of care to do everything reasonably practicable to look after their employee’s safety, health, and wellbeing. Psychological factors also come with a significant cost; according to the Centre for Mental Health the economic and social cost of mental ill health in England has grown in the last decade to almost £119 billion a year. The benefits of maintaining good psychological health and safety are many, not least because employees will feel more valued, and better and more effective relationships in the workplace will be encouraged.
Perhaps crucially, 45003 also addresses the risks associated with working out of hours and remote working. With the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic bringing these particular issues to the fore, along with widespread concern about employee mental health, 45003 could not have come at a better time.
What’s included in this health & Safety legislation update?
- Building Safety Bill;
- Environment Bill;
- Interim Office for Environmental Protection: Draft environmental principles policy statement;
- Legislation Coming into Force;
- Looking back – A round-up of some key legislation / standards / guidance that have come into force so far this year;
To learn more, download this free legislation eBook by simply filling out the form opposite.
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