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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
October 16, 2018

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EU Safety Regime

Companies call for UK to stay in EU safety regime

Manufacturers have called for the UK to stay in the European health and safety standards regime after Brexit.

A survey for a new report by the manufacturers’ organisation EEF and safety specialists Arco reveals that 97% of companies want no immediate change in regulations after Britain leaves the EU next year.

It also found just 3% want to revert to pre-EU health and safety regulation levels.

According to the survey, 42% of companies want no change to the current regulatory regime, whilst a further 55% want no immediate change, but would like a review of health and safety regulations once the UK has left the EU.

The report adds it is “vital” that the British Standards Institution (BSI) continues to play a leading role in European standards setting so that UK companies can continue to make products set within the European standards environment.

“There is a clear message from manufacturers that there should be no rapid change post Brexit to the UK’s health & safety regulatory regime,” said the EEF’s Head of Health and Safety Policy, Terry Woolmer.

“The Government’s current approach of grandfathering existing EU worker protection and product safety standards into UK law for the foreseeable future is the right one,” he added.

“This is essential to avoid costly disruption, the emergence of any technical barriers and the development of unnecessary multiple standards which might damage the prospects of some companies being able to operate seamlessly when the UK leaves the EU. It is also vital that BSI continues to play a leading role in setting the European standards environment, a position where the UK has substantial expertise.

Health and safety landscape

The report also takes a wide-ranging look at the health and safety landscape in the UK, which includes the first impact of the changes to health and safety fines introduced in 2016. In the manufacturing sector, fines doubled between 2015/16 to 2016/17 from £12.5m to £25.1m, resulting in an average fine of just under £160k.

Despite this large increase, the report claims two fifths of companies have taken no action to review their procedures whilst a third of companies had not seen any increase in involvement of senior management in health and safety since 2012

According to EEF, the fact that substantial changes in sentencing guidelines and increased fines have not altered company behaviour shows that they are not changing management culture towards health and safety and are merely a “blunt tool revenue” raising exercise for the Treasury.

“This report clearly identifies the concerns and beliefs of leaders within the sector, giving policymakers a vital insight into how manufacturing bosses believe Brexit should be rolled out,” said Arco’s Head of Heavy Manufacturing, Lee Pickering.

“We agree that that a rapid change in regulation post Brexit isn’t the correct approach as it would cause disruption but we also believe Brexit affords us an opportunity to review and improve health & safety regulations within the UK.

“What we don’t want to see happen once we leave the EU is the Government using Brexit as a justification for complacency as there are issues within our current framework that urgently need addressing if we are to ensure the safety of UK workers.”

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