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Health, Safety and Environmental

Substantial amounts of modern health and safety and environmental regulation derive from EU law. The current proposed government approach (the Great Repeal Bill) is to copy existing EU law into domestic law “wherever practicable” on the day that the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

Health and Safety Regulation

HSE regulation should remain identical (or at least substantially similar) on the day of Brexit.

The longer term effects of Brexit will be that UK regulation may slowly drift apart from EU regulation, creating a division between foreign and domestic markets. Transnational companies may no longer be able to take a consistent approach across their operations and will need to consider either:

Ensuring all elements of the business work to the highest standard applicable in their area of operations (with the risk of “gold plating” compliance in areas with looser regulation); or

Operating different compliance schemes in the UK and the EU that reflects the difference in regulation (with the risk that this may not be cost-effective, or may cause internal complication and division).

There has been little indication that “home-grown” health and safety regulation is likely to change as a result of Brexit. The UK has a well-established history of health and safety regulation prior to EU intervention, and a reputation of applying health and safety law efficiently and consistently. It also has an established regulator in the form of the Health and Safety Executive, which was in existence before the EU and its predecessors.

 

Environmental Regulation

A similar position applies to Environmental Regulation. Whilst substantial elements derive from EU Regulations and Directives, the current government intention is that existing law will be transposed wholesale into domestic law.

Similar concerns will apply as time passes following Brexit. Compliance regimes in the EU and UK may drift apart across time, and transnational companies in particular will need to review their approach to compliance across markets and locations.

 

Recommended Actions

  • Monitor for any government variations to existing EU law as part of the transposition into domestic law.
  • Use the process of transposition as an opportunity to review existing compliance systems and processes. Consider undertaking a gap analysis or audit to identify any existing or future compliance gaps.

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