Be informed, be safe: health and safety updates to be aware of 

Health and safety regulations for businesses are constantly evolving to keep up to date with the needs of a modern workforce, and every employer needs to be aware of such changes to ensure they’re able to fulfil their legal obligations as outlined by HSE. This is for employers to do all they can to ensure the health, safety and well-being of their employees, any visitors to their premises, and any other people that may be affected by their business. This will be even more important in 2019 as Britain is preparing to leave the EU in March. Unfortunately, many of us are uncertain of how this will affect current health and safety laws in 2019 and beyond.

Here’s everything you need to be aware of to ensure your business stays compliant with current health and safety guidelines…

How did health and safety legislation change in 2018?

Although the three-year Helping Great Britain Work Well initiative was introduced in 2017, it was only last year that we started to see the effects of it come into play. The initiative places emphasis on health and safety not being the responsibility of one individual within an organisation, but an integral part of everyone’s roles within the workplace. It also places a focus on prevention rather than cure by helping organisations to understand the importance of sensible and proportionate risk management. The aim is to reduce costs and lower sickness absences.

Another change that was implemented in 2018 was the replacement of the current Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 (IRR99) with the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17). This involved reducing workers’ exposure to ionising radiation by lowering the dose limit of exposure to the eye. We also saw the introduction of the new Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018 in the UK, highlighting the importance of safe and effective PPE for employees.

What health and safety updates do you need to be prepared for in 2019?

According to the HSE Business Plan for 2018/19, this year’s actions will focus on sustaining momentum of the Helping Great Britain Work Well strategy. Other priorities will include:

  • Leading and engaging with others to improve workplace health and safety
  • Providing an effective regulatory framework
  • Securing effective management and control of risk
  • Reducing the likelihood of low-frequency, high-impact catastrophic incidents

These aims will be achieved by a number of actions, including (but not limited to):

  • Reduce levels of occupational lung disease (OLD), musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and work-related stress through the deliverance of the next phase of the Health and Work programme.
  • Widen the reach of the Helping Great Britain Work Well scheme by building on its stakeholder engagement and commitment. This will focus on the highest-risk sectors.
  • Make technical changes to the Statutory Instruments under European Union (Withdrawal) Bill to ensure current EU law still functions effectively on our exit from the European Union.
  • Prepare any necessary changes to the chemicals regime as part of Britain’s exit from the EU.
  • Deliver around 20,000 proactive inspections to prevent harm, focusing inspections on specific issues found in high-risk industries. These include OLD and MSDs).
  • Sustain the timeliness of decisions on applications for authorisation of biocides and pesticides.
  • Deliver interventions to address health and safety issues across major hazard industries, many of which will include targeted interventions focusing on risks from legionella, fairgrounds, and major construction projects.

In terms of Britain’s upcoming withdrawal from the European Union, HSE states that they will continue to support the Government’s commitment to protecting the rights of UK workers. This will be done by ensuring that our health and safety regulations still provide a high level of protection in the workplace.

NEBOSH, The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health examines whether Brexit will affect health and safety in an article published by UK Construction Online. They note that although there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the withdrawal process, not much should change in regards to health and safety legislation – at least in the short term. As they point out, the Health and Safety at Work A etc. Act 1974 (the UK’s primary legislation) was derived wholly from the UK.

Additionally, it appears that the UK still wants to retain strong trade ties with the EU. NEBOSH explains that this means it’s likely that we will continue to adhere to many of the regulations and standards we already have in place. The UK Parliament may, however, “amend, repeal and improve” individual laws as necessary.

To ensure your business complies with current health and safety standards, they should be provided with suitable protective garments for their working environment. Contact us to find out more about our range of workwear and industrial laundering service.

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