Brexit and Health and Safety Regulation
The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act underpins the regulatory framework for health and safety in the UK. This act has been used to introduce new and updated regulations, some of which have been to fulfil EU directives and requirements. For the past 44 years this has worked, and many EU requirements have been issued as regulations under the UK act – they are now UK law.
For example, the EU directives on Display Screen Equipment Use led to the UK DSE regulations being enforced from 1991.
The Great Repeal Act, currently being debated in the UK Parliament, suggests that all current EU law will simply be transferred to become UK laws. For health and safety this is not necessarily the case as shown for DSE, this is now a UK piece of legislation and nothing needs to happen.
With Brexit there is, therefore, no requirement to review, update or change current health and safety regulations. However, it will offer an opportunity, through time, for the UK to develop its own laws, possibly diverging from EU frameworks and requirements. The degree to which this will be possible is yet to be fully understood, but it is highly unlikely that there shall be a significant reduction in the regulatory requirements relating to health and safety.
Those supporting Brexit frequently suggest that it is an opportunity to simplify, remove and ‘take back control’. With regard to health and safety this simply does not apply.