Safety groups urge rethink on sunsetting EU laws

A coalition of safety groups has urged the government to reconsider sunsetting EU safety laws protecting workers.

The Retained EU Law Bill plans to sunset up to 4,000 pieces of legislation by the end of the year.

This includes construction-related health and safety rules and there is concern it could result in a rolling back of safety progress made over decades.

The coalition, spearheaded by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), represents more than 100,000 individuals and 10,000 safety organisations.

Unless the government ministries responsible step in to preserve legislation by writing it into UK law, it will be lost.

Campaigners believe this a mammoth task and not feasible in the time frame. The coalition has asked the government to meet to find a way forward.

The group includes: RoSPA; Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH); British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS); British Safety Council (BSC); International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM); British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF); and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

Better regulation is not deregulation

The coalition said in a statement: “Given Britain’s longstanding 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.

“However, we are concerned that the time frame 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 de-regulation.

“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.

“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.

Evidence approach needed

“Ultimately, we need more time and a more transparent process. Time to take an evidence-based approach, to treat each law individually, and to look at the overarching reason the law was originally passed.

“Every law has a considered aim and intention. And it is this aim and intention that we must carefully consider against the needs and necessary protections of workers and their rights, and the needs of all people and business, today and in the future, to be safe, healthy and sustainable.”

It added: “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.”

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