As of 11pm on 31st January 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union.  Parties and Wakes (depending on your perspective) occurred throughout the land.  Whatever your viewpoint, a brave new world was dawning.

Or was it?

Despite the bravissimo and blustering of media and politicians alike, February 1st 2020 merely marked the beginning of a transition period in UK/EU relations.  Travel arrangements remain unchanged.  Employment rights are unaltered.  And legislation – including Health and Safety Law – continues as it has done throughput the nineties and the noughties.

This means that all of the current duties of employers and employees alike continue and business is – and will continue to be throughout 2020 – continuing “as normal”.  The legal duties of the Health and Safety at Work Act remain, with employers having a duty to ensure safe systems of work and to provide training and appropriate equipment for their employees.  Employees still need to follow the safe systems of work, using equipment provided by their employer if it is safe to do so and they have been trained to use it, and attending training provided by their employer in order to do their jobs safely.

With regards to manual handling, the requirement for a risk assessment to be completed as per The Manual Handling Operations Regulations is ongoing.  Hazardous manual handling tasks should be avoided if possible and, when not possible, risks should be reduced “as far as reasonably practicable”.  Lifting equipment should continue to comply with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations continues to apply – at least, until 31st December 2020.

But what then?  A week, they say, is a long time in politics.  We have a year to get through in which the UK and the EU will be involved in some intensive and extensive negotiations.  Will health and safety law change, now that the United Kingdom is going it alone?

I think not.

Why?  The amount of legislation relating to Health and Safety (including case law) is extensive.  With everything else going on, who would want to try to rewrite that?

Why?  Because good health and safety is good business sense.  Investment in the health and safety of staff and others improves staff retention and reduces sickness levels, as well as liability payments and insurance premiums.

Why?  Because the government is publicly committed to this.  In an interview with the BBC’s “Breakfast News” on 3rd February 2020, Mr Rishi Sumak MP, Chief Secretary to The Treasury, said “…we are taking the lead whether it is protecting workers (or other things)..We have a record to be proud of” (my emphasis).

Why?  Because we are living in an age of moral responsibility and consciousness, whether it be concern for climate change, slave labour, or health and safety.  Woe betide anyone who may harm the safety of the United Kingdom’s employees.

Whatever may happen regarding future legislation, one thing I can guarantee.  ARMS Rehab Limited will continue to be at the forefront of good practice, delivering high quality training and advice to improve the value of your business and your staff.  Email us on info@armsrehab.co.uk  to find out how.