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Our Parliamentary update - the journey so far…

28 October 2016

‘Good safety and health is good for business’ is at the forefront of our work at the BSIF and leads our political engagement programme that, in conjunction with our other activity, is working towards improving the overall opinion of health and safety in the UK.

Following Brexit, there has been circumspection about the extent to which health and safety regulations, currently governed by the EU, could shape industry in the future. We have consequently been keen to keep our membership as informed as possible, particularly with regards to the impact of the new PPE Regulations that are due to come into force from the 21st April 2018.

The BSIF is actively engaging with the Government and all affiliated bodies to establish the official positions as the negotiation’s process progresses. We will therefore continue our efforts to ensure that the safety of the UK workforce is not compromised and that fundamental good health and safety practice and policies remain in place.

To the general public, health and safety is often seen as overbearing and an unnecessary burden that is lambasted and parodied in the media. It is through our work with the new Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Department for Work & Pensions that we will be working against these misconceptions to prevent the de-regulation of health and safety.

Never before has there been more widespread evidence of PPE products failing standards tests, including safety toe caps, leather gloves and high vis clothing. As a result, we have relaunched and strengthened our Registered Safety Suppliers Scheme (RSSS) in order to prevent non-compliant and non-conforming PPE from entering the UK market. We are therefore actively engaging with Government and local councils to inform them of the importance of buying PPE from reputable suppliers who are members of the RSSS in order to ensure that these safer practices become part and parcel of Government and local council procurement strategies.

In addition to our concerns for the provision of occupational safety, we are also keen to improve the response to work-related long latency illnesses. These have been recognised more widely since the success of the BOHS Breathe Freely campaign that has highlighted the impact of occupational lung disease. The BSIF has been engaging with the Department of Health in order to demonstrate that better health and safety legislation would cut back work-related illness rates. This is supported by our Work Related Respiratory Report that will be launched later this year following our engagement with local councils.

Furthermore, in July this year we registered an Early Day Motion (EDM) that recognised the HSE Help Great Britain Work Well strategy and agreed that effective health and safety cultures should be celebrated in businesses, rather than be seen as a burden.  The EDM also recognised the reduction in the HSE’s budget and the implications this could have on regulations being implemented. 

Penny Mordaunt’s appointment in July as the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work with responsibility for oversight of HSE at the Department for Work and Pensions will see her working to improve health and safety performance and outcomes in the UK and we look forward to working with her on this.