Brexit spells uncertainty in most industries. We have spent years speculating over how it will affect our businesses, politics and lifestyle, and we are still yet to get solid answers. So, what does it mean in relation to health and safety? And how can you ready your company for every eventuality?
Changes in legislation
Thankfully, there will be few major changes in relation to health and safety after Brexit. Moderations have been made to the laws, but these changes are all to ensure that the previous rules are still applicable after Britain leaves the EU. Health and safety regulations affected include:
• Amendment of the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996
• Amendment of the Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010
• Amendment of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017.
However, nothing about the way these rules should be adhered to within your business needs to change. Altered regulations have been designed to maintain high H&S levels rather than to reform them, as well as reasserting full authority to the UK government and reduce reliance on the EU.
The revisions that have been made are logistical, to remove any mention of or reliance to, the European Union. As far as running your business is concerned, the practical health and safety regulations that you should already abide by still stand.
After leaving the EU — deal or not — your priority as an employer will still be to provide the safest and healthiest working environment for your employees. Risk reduction, and a high levels of health and safety remain fundamental to the running of your business.
What would a no-deal Brexit mean?
The changes in legislation have been minor as of yet, but what will change if we leave the EU without a deal? A no-deal scenario, and the creation of new H&S legislation, could have detrimental effects on UK businesses.
One area that is in danger of troubling consequences is the chemical industry. As it stands, the regulation of chemicals entering and leaving the EU is dictated by the REACH legislation. This is a complex piece of legislation that aims to prevent the trade of dangerous chemicals. If Britain leaves the EU with no deal, they will be exempt from the REACH regulations. This means that the UK will need to start over to implement these fundamental rules — damaging trade opportunities for chemical companies.
General H&S rules
Overall, the best way you can adjust to Brexit within your business is to continue to prioritise health and safety and adhere to existing regulations. For example, construction companies must continue to put the wellbeing of their employees first by ensuring safe working conditions, high quality work platforms, and acceptable working hours with plenty of breaks. If you are unsure of how to go about regulating health and safety in the workplace, your best option is to find a consultant to advise you.