This article provides and overview of how Brexit has and will effect health and safety in the UK.
Firstly, it’s worth remembering that the UK is a world leader in health and safety standards, and therefore, has a pretty solid base that won’t require many changes even after Brexit.
From RIDDOR we know there were 111 workers killed in the UK over the 2019/2020 period – a workplace mortality rate that continues a 35-year downward trend. Injuries are also decreasing. So, it’s fair to say legislation is working.
Prior to BREXIT some of the health and safety regulations in the UK were written by the EU with the consent of the British government but not written by the UK itself. For example, EC Regulation 852/2004 with covers food safety.
Following Brexit, the UK incorporated all EU HSE laws into UK law.
So the question of how Brexit effects health and safety will depend on whether the UK changes existing EU health and safety laws or writes future laws differently to the EU.
So the main way Brexit effects health and safety in the UK is that the UK government now has the power to change these regulations without reference to the EU. However, that power may be limited by the terms of any trade deal that is reached with the EU. The decision as to which regulations (or parts of regulations) are retained is a decision for UK Parliament.
The laws put in place as a consequence of European directives will continue to be a part of both English, Scots and Welsh law, until specifically repealed. Northern Ireland will continue to be under the EU regulatory framework, however, if the NI business is exporting to the GB market, it may also have to make some adjustments. The changes discussed here relate to Great Britain, that is, England, Scotland and Wales.
The main changes to consider at the moment are:
- Chemicals industry and the safe management of chemicals
- Placing civil explosives on the market
- Manufacture and supply of new work equipment
Lets take a look in at each of these changes in a little more detail.
Regulating chemicals after the UK transition period
From the 1st January 2021, the UK put in place its own independent chemical regulatory regulation, UK REACH, which applies to the majority of chemical substances; both those used in industrial processes and in daily life, for example in cleaning products, paints, clothes, furniture and electrical appliances.
This means that businesses will need to take steps to ensure regulatory requirements are fulfilled on both sides of the Channel, in order to maintain continuity of supply chain. Furthermore, GB will continue to adopt the United Nations Harmonized System.
Five main changes to be aware of:
- GB will have an independent GB CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging) system.
- GB will have a new mandatory classification and labeling system, and a GB mandatory classification and labelling list (GB MCL List).
- There will be GB notifications arrangements for new and already notified substances with details sent to HSE (GB CLP Agency), instead of ECHA.
- There will be new requirements on GB-based distributors who are currently suppliers by the EU/EEA, who will become importers after the end of the transition period.
- There will be changes to GB CLP to implement the NI protocol and Unfettered Access.
As a business you need to understand your role in the supply chain and know your obligations under the GB CLP. There may be certain aspects that you need help with to fulfil the obligations of an importer, such as, labelling, substance mixtures etc. In addition, there is also a GB regulatory framework for biocides, which has been created by HSE; this reflects some of the EU framework but works independently, and some EU functions have been removed.
However, HSE will lose access to ECHA tools and data stored in ECHA systems, therefore, applications and data have to be resubmitted to HSE. Hence, make sure that as a business you know which applications need to be resubmitted before placing a product on the market.
Manufacture and supply of new work equipment
New products may not be placed on the GB market unless they fully meet the requirements of all product legislation relevant to the product. If you are placing a product on the GB market for the first time, a “Conformity Assessment” will need to be carried out – this means that the product complies with the safety legislation criteria.
Be aware that, depending on the applicable legislation and the nature of the product and risk, conformity assessments range from self-assessment of the product to self-assessment with third party type-examination, and/or full quality assurance. So, manufacturers and their authorised representatives need to find out what these procedures are for any of their products destined for the GB market.
UK businesses wishing to supply goods into the single European market, comprising the EU and EEA member states, and Switzerland, must meet EU single market rules for product conformity and, in many cases, show this by CE marking. Key examples of relevant European product legislation are listed on the European Commission’s website – europa.eu
Changes in civil explosive regulations after Brexit
If a written or verbal agreement takes place after the 1st January 2021 to place civil explosives on the market, including; drafting a contract, invoices or shipping related documents, you need to consider these changes:
- Replacing the CE marking for UK Conformity Assessment (UKCA) marking; placed directly on the product or on the accompanying documentation. This procedure is valid until 31 December 2022, after this period the marking must be placed directly on the civil explosive product.
When to use UKCA marking?
The new UKCA marking must be used if all of the following apply. Your civil explosive:
- Is covered by legislation which requires the UKCA marking
- Requires mandatory third-party conformity assessment
- Conformity assessment has been carried out by a UK conformity assessment body and you didn’t transfer your conformity assessment files from your UK body to an EU- recognised body before 1 January 2021
Another important change to be aware of is that if you use an authorised representative or responsible person, they must be based in the UK for explosives being placed on the GB market.
The delays in shipping products aren’t due to a divergence in safety standards but new requirements for UK companies to show they are meeting EU standards. Which may seem strange because our standards are currently the same but still checks are required. Hopefully checks will become more efficient and shipping delay reduced.
Safety compliance should be expensive or inefficient. At echo3education we supply a range of online training courses that provide a smooth and easy way both to meet regulations and evidence that prerequisite training has been completed.