At the time of writing the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 31st October 2019. Whether this will occur or not remains the hot topic in every workplace. Whether you are for or against Brexit is not our concern here. What is important, is making sure business in Coventry and Warwickshire thrives in the coming years and that health and safety remains at the forefront of good business practices.
The last ten years or so has seen so much change in our region. Austerity brought its difficulties and yet investment in infrastructure, property and business in Coventry and the surrounding areas in recent years has been impressive. We need to ensure our area goes from strength to strength, encouraging investment from abroad in our service and manufacturing industries. Some of the big organisations in our area such as JLR and Coventry University have brought about much success for smaller organisations and SMEs. They have attracted large construction projects, infrastructure upgrades and new improved facilities. Small, local businesses have been benefiting from these investments and this includes JCH Safety as well. In this environment we now face Brexit on the near horizon. For some it will be long awaited and for others it has been long feared. What we know is that many businesses are now ready and well placed for Brexit.
Coventry and Warwickshire businesses, like those across the UK, have been working hard to prepare for leaving the EU and all being well it will work out for our region in a positive way. It is not too late to make preparations for leaving. If you have not given the matter due consideration we urge you to do so. It is important that your organisation remains health and safety compliant, and ready to do business in an exciting, but also daunting, new business climate.
JCH Safety Ltd works with a variety of small local companies; Coventry schools; Warwickshire Churches; and SME businesses and organisations around Coventry and Warwickshire. We assist in helping them with their health and safety compliance and with fire prevention measures. As health and safety consultants in Coventry and Fire Risk Assessors, we are keen to make sure our clients are ready for Brexit. It is vital that Brexit causes as little disruption to business in Coventry and Warwickshire as possible.
Firstly, to clear up a few myths and questions:
Will there still be health and safety after Brexit?
Yes, of course! The UK is one of the safest places to work in the world because of health and safety. This will not change. It is correct that many of the UK’s health and safety regulations do originate from the EU however, they are adopted by UK law and they remain active at the point the UK leaves the EU. Therefore, the duty to protect the health and safety of all of the people that are affected by your work (staff, contractors, the general public and customers etc.) will not change with Brexit. The Health and Safety at Work etc, Act 1974 is British legislation as are the regulations that we have. Brexit will not erode UK health and safety law. Leaving the EU does not end health and safety compliance in Coventry and Warwickshire. After Brexit, you should continue to manage risk in your business in a proportionate way in accordance with existing health and safety legislation. Failure to comply with regulations will have exactly the same consequences after Brexit as before, at least for the foreseeable future. Therefore you will need to continue to have an up to date health and safety policy; your risk assessments will need to be in place; you should continue to invest in health and safety training; and to have up to date fire risk assessments in place. You will still need to have your premises in Coventry and Warwickshire inspected, your equipment serviced and for your team to wear the relevant PPE. Basically, it is business as normal in regards to health and safety in Coventry and Warwickshire and for the time being, you need to continue to manage health and safety the way you always have.
Will anything change?
In time all sorts of changes may or may not happen. A lot will depend on the deal that is developed with the EU and others with the rest of the world. Many of the regulations that are in place are designed to protect workers from harm in the workplace and to provide a level playing field of compliance across the European Union. The HSE has already carried out minor amendments to regulations in order to remove EU references which of course makes sense. Despite this, legal requirements will remain the same as they are now for many years to come in most respects. The Government has made it clear that Health and safety standards, including in the area of fire safety, will be maintained. This is very important to business in Coventry and Warwickshire in order to keep our SMEs competitive in the national and world markets moving forward. A well trained, competent and safe workforce is a productive and competitive workforce for the future. Safety makes staff feel valued, protects the most important assets a business has (it’s people) and builds positive brands.
Coventry and Warwickshire has all sorts of really interesting businesses. It never fails to amaze me when I visit a new client just how innovative the Midlands is. Coventry has some great manufacturers designing and building really useful products as do Nuneaton, Rugby and the surrounding areas. There are large manufacturers as well as smaller companies working from home in Warwickshire or from small industrial units. It is amazing how fast these companies develop into thriving businesses employing people. In time they move premises and have sites developed for their specific needs. These companies are so important for our local economy. It is important that they are ready for Brexit particularly if they manufacture goods for supply to the UK market and the EU. Manufacturers that currently use a Conformity marking (CE), may likely need to change to the new UKCA marking. You will need to do your research here to see what applies to your business. Most companies we deal with have made the necessary preparations with the information that is available but if you haven’t done so yet please do so. The UKCA marking will indicate that your goods comply with UK regulations and can only be placed on the UK market. It is not applicable to the European Union that will remain the CE Marking.
The Government is helping businesses to get ready for Brexit. More information is available as part of the Government’s Brexit resources which are easy to locate as to what you need to do. The role of UK Approved Bodies (currently UK notified bodies) in the conformity assessment process will not change. If you are manufacturing goods for supply to the EU market, by export, you will still require the CE marking. Make sure you are up to speed with these changes to prevent anything slowing your SME down.
In time, no doubt, matters relating to health and safety will change and the Government will keep us informed. We do not envisage safety to be given any less importance post Brexit. The UK has long been a world leader in health and safety. Britain is one of the safest places to work in the world and long may that continue. Locally, Coventry and Warwickshire has been a world leader in many industries. Car manufacturing, education and a variety of other industries strive for excellence in our area. We are certain that as long as businesses keep ahead of the curve, plan properly and value their workforce that Coventry and Warwickshire, will go from strength to strength after Brexit.