Health and safety leaders have called on the government to scrap what it has termed the “arbitrary deadlines” of its EU Retained Law Bill, which is aiming to ‘sunset’ thousands of EU-derived laws and regulations by the end of the year.
A coalition of health and safety organisations, which includes the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the British Safety Council and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, has argued that, while change can be a positive thing, the government needs to ensure there is enough time and a full consultative process.
“Given Britain’s long-standing record as a global leader in health and safety, we understand the need for continuous improvement and how regularly reviewing legislation can build more effective frameworks,” the group has said.
“However, we are concerned that the timeframe set forth for implementing the Retained EU Law Bill could lead to increased harm. While we agree the revision and improvement of UK health and safety laws would be positive, we are conscious that better regulation is not deregulation,” it has added.
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The move follows similar warnings by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
As things stand, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, currently going through parliament, is set automatically to scrap more than 2,400 laws, dating from the UK’s time as a member of the bloc. It is set to take effect from the end of December.
These include the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, Work at Height Regulations, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations, and the Construction Design and Management Regulations.
“To ensure the safety and health outcomes of Britain’s workforce and therefore the resilience of its businesses, regulations must be reviewed sensibly, with due scrutiny and in consultation with both the occupational safety and health profession and business leaders,” the coalition has said.
“Rushing to implement the Bill as it stands, without clarity on which laws the Bill covers, and with the sunset clauses it contains, will undermine our health and safety standards and protections.
“We therefore call upon the government to meet with us to discuss the impending Bill so that we can work together to offer constructive opinion. Put simply, we would like a thorough and inclusive consultation and engagement process, so that we do not risk a race to the bottom and strip away our people’s rights to a life free from serious accidental injury and ill health,” the group of organisations added.