How can manufacturers maintain health and safety standards post-Brexit?

Posted on 16 Oct 2018 by Maddy White

A report published yesterday by EEF and Arco, looked to find the best ways to maintain health and safety standards in manufacturing post-Brexit.

42% of survey respondents did not want any change to legislation post-Brexit – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

The report explained that the UK must continue to adopt the worker protection and product safety laws of the European Union, until the UK has a new trade agreement with the EU.

The government’s Brexit white paperwhich outlined proposals for “frictionless” trade between the EU and UK was released months ago. However, it is now five months to Brexit, and no trade agreement has been finalised.

The Manufacturer previously explored the impacts Brexit is already having on UK manufacturing, which you can read here.

Manufacturers don’t want initial legislative change

Post-Brexit, 42% of survey respondents did not want any change to legislation, whereas just over half (54%) preferred no initial change but a review of all health and safety laws after the UK has left the EU.

53% of companies with less than 100 employees would like no change to the regulatory regime, but medium sized (67%) and larger (55%) businesses were more supportive of reviewing worker protection regulations post-Brexit.

The report highlights four key areas that need consideration:

Competition is the single biggest challenge currently facing UK businesses overall against backdrop of Brexit, according to new research.
According to the report, it is important for the UK to be part of any and all European standards setting groups post-Brexit.
  • Through the British Standards Institution (BSi), it is important for the UK to be part of any and all European standards setting groups post-Brexit.
  • The UK needs to work within the framework of EU product safety legislation, so that Britain can continue to trade without the risk of technical barriers being raised.
  • There are concerns about substandard imports of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) into the UK that are used in the workplace, this needs to be addressed.
  • Brexit could allow the UK to reconsider some workplace Health and Safety legislation that have arisen out of EU directives; Artificial Optical Radiation (AOR) and Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) for example.

The report also discusses whether the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme is effective, coming to the conclusion that FFI “ is not working.”

According to the survey, HSE’s role historically has been one of adviser, regulator and enforcer. FFI has impacted on this relationship with business in a detrimental way, as HSE is largely now only perceived as an enforcer. 

What is the FFI?

The FFI came into effect on 1 October 2012, if a business is found to be in material breach (failure) of health and safety law, it will have to pay for the time it takes to identify the breach and help put things right. This includes investigating and taking enforcement action.

The report also addressed product testing, the requirements of manufactured and supplied goods into the EU market varies between different EU product regulations.

The survey concluded that the lack of market surveillance in the UK (and in the EU) worsens this problem.

The report also advises manufacturers how to navigate these problems:

  • Ask suppliers for a declaration of conformity that shows original certification for any product being purchased.
  • Ask suppliers to define their process for sample testing to ensure safety products continue to meet the required standards.
  • Ask suppliers to define their process of quality assurance at the manufacturing facility to ensure the products are being manufactured as they were originally certified.
  • Always buy from a trusted source.
  • Ensure suppliers (in the case of PPE) are members of the BSiF Registered Safety Supplier Scheme.

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