Safety bodies comment on Brexit decision
British Safety Council and British Safety Industry Federation respond to vote to leave the EU
BOTH the British Safety Council and the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) have commented on the result of the UK’s referendum on EU membership, with the former urging caution over any review of the existing legislative and regulatory framework and the latter saying it would not attempt to second guess the impacts or consequences of any potential changes as a result of the leave vote.
Louise Ward, director of policy and standards at the British Safety Council, said: ‘Over the last 40 years there has been a significant improvement in the health, safety and well-being of workers in the UK. This has been driven and structured by our collective approach to risk management developed from our legislative and regulatory framework.
‘Some of the legislation that comprises this framework has, since the mid-1990s, had its origins in European Directives, but all are now discrete items of UK law. Now that the UK has voted to leave the EU, and depending on the terms of any future agreements, there may be a need to review the framework.’
She continued: ‘Caution is required here if we are to continue to maintain our current standards and protect the health and safety of workers in the UK. The objective must be to judge each element of the framework on its own merits and effectiveness, not just on its origin.
‘The British Safety Council urges government to ensure that any proposed alteration to items of health and safety and environmental legislation is considered carefully. These important decisions must be properly evidence-based and ensure continuity of proportionate and effective protection for workers in the UK.’
Ms Ward added: ‘UK health, safety and environmental performance is respected internationally. The British Safety Council is committed to maintaining its support to employers, its members and clients across the world to deliver its vision that no-one should be injured or made ill at work.’
Meanwhile, the BSIF said that while it would not attempt to second guess the impacts or consequences of any potential changes created by the decision to leave the EU, it would be seeking early guidance from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) on their position.
It said the personal protective equipment (PPE) market in the UK had been based on EU directives for a generation, and that after years of discussion, new Regulation (EU) 2016/425 had come into force in April this year.
‘At this stage, we can only assume the market will continue to recognize it,’ said the BSIF in a written Brexit statement, adding that the Federation would work with legislators to be on the inside of any discussions and would ensure that BSIF members were kept up to date with all pertinent developments.
‘What we do know,’ the statement continued, ‘is that the UK has led the world in occupational safety and health, and the Federation remains dedicated to making sure that safety and health is properly recognized in this country as a force for good.
‘Irrespective of the momentous changes we now face in our political landscape, the Federation will continue to ensure safety and health is acknowledged as an important sphere in government policy and regarded as synonymous with good business practice.’