Can HSE survive without the EU?

Work place safety has once again been shoved in the spotlight as Brexit talks heat up. Many of those in the health and safety industry fear that the impact of the UK leaving the EU could have far reaching after-effects.

For many years, the UK have relied on the EU to offer guidelines on important health and safety matters. In fact, the EU boasts that it has had the biggest direct impact on legislation for occupation health and safety in the UK. While many specialists in the field of HSE agree that the EU does have a far-reaching impact on related matters in the UK, very few were actually able to confirm whether they see the impact as negative or positive.

And, with the prospect of the referendum looming businesses can be sure that whether positive or negative the decision made when those votes are cast will affect the way operational health and safety is conducted in the UK.

Those casting the all-important votes won’t necessarily have the UK’s health and safety industry on their minds. Despite this, there are several questions which need to be honestly asked. The biggest question which needs to be asked is whether current regulations adopted from EU policies actually hinder or help the safety industry.

There are a number of leading companies that believe the UK’s HSE industry does in fact not need the regulations set out the EU. These companies have, in the past, tabled strong evidence which could very well support the claims. In a four year period leading up to 2015, the HSE industry actually cut 40% of its spending.

This was notably done without an increase in the number of fatalities in the workplace. Those who agree that the UK does not need to the EU regulations say that this provides for strong evidence that the UK simply can do with the EU and the support it offers.

There are, however, critics to this school of thought who believe that something will have to give eventually. They believe that a spending cut down will only be able to last for so long before cracks start to emerge and money saving plans begins to fall apart. They also say that while there has not been an increase in fatalities in the workplace, there have also not been significant decreases in fatality occurrences. According to critics, the cut down on spending is a direct indication that the UK in fact relies on the EU policies more than they believe.

Those in favour of a move from the EU policies say employees on the ground often found the policy guidelines to be confusing and irrelevant. This move would also open the playing field to enterprises in the private sector that would suitably be able to provide specialised services to businesses to fulfil all their HSE needs.

The best way for all business to stay ahead of the vote is to make sure that they put suitable plans in place for both scenarios. To do this, businesses need to prepare and train employees to fulfil key HSE roles within the company.