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From the CEO's desk - November 2018

26 October 2018

Alan Murray shares details on the BSIF’s report on how to ensure that BREXIT doesn’t have a damaging effect on the health and safety sector.

I WANT to highlight and share the key elements of our report, which we put before the government agencies in an attempt to best manage the road ahead and ensure that our industry, which has been premised on EU Directives and Regulation over the past 30 years, is not damaged at the altar of ideology should we end up with a hard or No Deal Brexit.

The report entitled Safe, Productive and Prosperous Outside the EU was informed by a comprehensive survey of BSIF members undertaken in July and August seeking views to take on to the Government. It attempts to reaffirm the importance of the work done by our industry, pinpointing that our industry has a fundamental impact on productivity and prosperity for the country. 

Safety and avoiding work-related ill health are inextricably linked with productivity, which has been slowing in the UK since the financial crisis. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were 31.2m working days lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2016/17, and the economic cost of workplace injury and illness is around £14.9bn a year, of which £9.7bn is illness and £5.3bn is injury.

Good safety is good business. We cannot afford to let productivity suffer. A 2011 report by the International Social Security Association found that the average return on prevention for safety and health at work was around 2.2 to one, meaning that savings are more than double the initial investment. Benefits include the prevention of disruption and wastage, a sustained focus on quality, and employee satisfaction. 

The report in its introduction goes on to reinforce the role that the UK plays internationally in safety and health and that our influence is at threat. While the UK is a world leader in workplace safety there is still work to be done to improve this record and to ensure that UK industry continues to improve productivity and serve its workers to the best of its ability.

Summary of recommendations

Here are the three key recommendations that the report made:

  • Any final deal should include a mutual recognition agreement for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
  • Safety and health standards should be unequivocally protected after the UK leaves the European Union;
  • Responsibility for PPE standards enforcement should be moved to the Office for Product Safety and Standards and the authorities should recognise and promote the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, and ensure that market surveillance is proactive and effective; and 
  • Vigilance and enforcement will have to significantly improve following Britain’s exit from the European Union. If we are to protect UK workers, the enforcement of PPE standards should be carried out at the border and throughout the supply chain, not just in some workplaces

You can read the report in full at www.bsif.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Safe-Productive-and-Prosperous-Outside-the-EU-Final-17th-October-2018.pdf

Safety and health is all too often an area that is under resourced by government. The UK’s safety industry is a world leader in this field, taking advantage of an international reputation for high standards and effective regulation, and the industry needs to be recognised and prioritised as an important player. 

At this crucial time, as the country is exiting the European Union, the contribution the safety and health industry makes to the UK economy, the safety of UK workers and the reputation of UK plc, cannot be underestimated. This can be measured in exports, reputational appeal for the UK industry and worker safety. 

The BSIF is calling for all recommendations to be taken up by the Government, the HSE and the European Commission to ensure that workers’ safety remains a priority after the UK exits the EU. I am pleased to say BSIF will, despite Brexit be taking the presidency of the European Safety Federation, the umbrella organisation for the safety industry across Europe, in February 2019. Through this channel we will be working to further build links with our colleagues across Europe and to reinforce British leadership in safety and health.

BSIF member spotlight

Today Monks & Crane is a leading national distributor of industrial consumables, tooling and PPE, specialising in delivering bespoke value-added solutions to industry. A national distribution centre based in the West Midlands supports its network of 13 strategically located branches. At the heart of its business strategy is a company ethos of ‘Delivering Great Customer Service’, a strategic programme of measurable service KPI’s, which are promoted and effectively communicated throughout its business.

Alan Murray is chief executive of the BSIF. For more information, visit www.bsif.co.uk