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As the Brexit story unfolds, more details will be known about future occupational safety and health regulations. It is therefore likely that some of the issues still uncertain at the time Safety Management magazine goes to press will be clearer in just a few days, when these pages reach our readers.

Or not. Because if something we have learned through the Brexit process is that deferments and new scenarios have found a fertile territory in the public debate after 23 June 2016.

Nonetheless, Brexit Day, 29 March, approaches, so this small dossier in Safety Management is our attempt to provide some forecasts about what the occupational safety and health landscape could look like in the coming months and years.

The comments here aim not to indulge ourselves in celebration about the accomplishments of the past decades, but to assert our expectations in a post-Brexit era

Most people in the industry hope that, after Brexit, we will maintain the high standards of British occupational health and safety practices. But Brexit is a seism, the consequences of which we are yet unable to foresee.

That is why many industry leaders and experts have expressed concerns about how the imminent changes to the country’s international relations could affect workers’ rights and diminish the role that workplace health, safety and environment would have in the business agenda from 2021 on. Read our article from Lawrence Waterman OBE on why Brexit must be for better not for worse and find out from Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect on what the slogan 'take back control' could mean for health and safety in practice.

It is no news that the powerful and proportionate health and safety system we enjoy today is a good blend of a very British craft and 30 years of EU Directives. And that is no coincidence.

Common interests, a shared mindset and strong coordination have been key in achieving it. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe, so as far as the mindset, the interests, the aspiration and the pride we all shared persevere, it would be easier to deal with the consequences of Brexit. See our article from Arco's Neil Hewitt on some of the opportunities Brexit brings to tighten up on compliance in areas such as CE marking. Laura Cameron, partner at Pinsent and Masons argues that rights and protections are too ingrained in values and morals for them to be in peril after Brexit here.

As businesses adapt to functioning outside the European bloc, there is the risk that time and money now set aside for improving workplace health and safety are diverted to meet other imperative needs. We know that despite the best examples and the best intentions, the future is uncertain, but to whatever scenario we wake up to in April, our magazine calls for preserving the powerful and proportionate workplace legislative systems and practices that have made Britain proud, and a model for many other nations. Do read our article from contributor Paul Reeve, director of communications at the ECA on this theme, and Luca Visentini general secretary at the European Trade Union Confederation's plea for a level playing field on workers' rights. 

Finally, it's important to see how institutions in health and safety see the future after Brexit. British Occupational Hygiene Society's Katherine Dearden explains the commitment of BOHS to maintain relationships with the EU in areas such as exposure limits, and the British Standards Institution offers a view for how businesses can remain resilient in uncertain times. 

Download the complete dossier here


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