With Brexit set in stone, it’s time to look to the future in terms of what this could mean for businesses and more importantly, the health & safety of its employees. Whilst the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) stresses that the responsibility still lies with employers to protect workers and meet regulations, it can often be difficult to navigate the number of micro-changes that will occur, as a result of such a large scale referendum.
Diverging routes to safer working environments
The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 has been the benchmark for legal protection for over 45 years. This act, which has been further supplemented by EU legislation and directives, will remain UK law following Brexit’s finalisation.
However, it is important to note that as time progresses and once Brexit’s dust settles, both the UK and EU will follow different paths. What this means is any new UK legislation will not be followed in the EU, and vice versa. Both systems will be completely independent of one another with differing priorities and emphasis on, for example, risk inspections or safety standards, that will diverge further as time passes.
What does this mean for business?
The complexities can arise for any businesses operating in both the UK and the EU. Businesses will need to ensure they’re flexible, meeting both EU and UK laws. This could squeeze the resources of UK businesses, who may need to pay for additional professional and legal advice or spend time and effort learning the ropes for themselves.
With Brexit legislation having an impact on labour, there will undoubtedly be changes in the composition of the UK workforce. Inevitably there will be fewer EU workers. It could be presumed that having more native English speakers within the workforce could reduce the probability of any health & safety mishaps, through communication breakdowns and misunderstandings.
However, with a shortage of skilled EU workers, the vacancy vacuum left in its wake must be filled by less experienced UK nationals. As a result, the level of skilled labour in the UK will decrease. With less skilled workers filling these roles, the risk of things going wrong is increased which could have a negative impact on health & safety.
The question remains, will Brexit dilute what is considered the gold standard for health & safety and knock Britain off the podium entirely? We’ll have to wait and see. With the HSE still clarifying, the buck remains with employers. It’s therefore important to act now.
At Atlantas Group, we are fully accredited and informed on the current and emerging regulation and legislation surrounding health & safety in public and commercial premises. We offer a bespoke, tailored solution, taking the time to familiarise ourselves with every business and their specific needs and requirements.
If you would like to get ahead of the Brexit effect and discuss how we can improve the health & safety of your business, please contact us on 0800 651 2020 or via the form below.