The British Safety Council has reiterated its key demand that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU must not in any way erode the progress made on home shores across the last four decades when it comes to workplace health, safety and welfare standards.
The adoption of EU directives within the UK’s legislative framework has been “instrumental in continual improvement” in these areas, as well as for the protection of workers’ rights and product safety, ultimately resulting in “dramatic reductions” in workplace fatalities and injuries in addition to the enhanced recognition of occupational health issues.
Lawrence Waterman, chairman of the British Safety Council, told The Paper: “The Government has repeatedly stated that there are safeguards for employment protections in the backstop – the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement’s arrangements that will be triggered and hold sway until all parties agree to a comprehensive trade policy. However, in Parliament and in answer to some probing questions, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox admitted that these clauses are ‘not enforceable’.”
Waterman continued: “The politicians, who brought us the assertion that ‘Health and Safety is a burden on business’ and a commitment to destroy Health and Safety culture, are now going back on their previous declaration that employment rights and environmental protections are safeguarded under the deal due to the presence of non-regression clauses. It has now been admitted that these clauses are not enforceable internationally by the EU institutions or by the arbitration mechanisms under the Withdrawal Agreement, claiming that this gave the UK ‘regulatory flexibility’ during the backstop.”