Health and safety regulations and laws are standardised across the EU but come December 2020 the UK will no longer be part of this European bloc. While the EU health and safety laws already in place in the UK won’t change, this does mean that, over time, our legal systems are likely to diverge.
As an article for Pinsent Masons recently pointed out, this could throw up some challenges for any businesses that operate both in the UK and the EU.
Among them is that businesses that work across jurisdictions will need to make sure they are up to date on the latest regulations and legislation in the different territories they operate in. Eventually, this could involve following slightly different procedures for risk assessments, control measures or even safety standards for different parts of the business.
The article also pointed out that, because of its work with the EU in sectors such as oil and gas, with businesses operating under very harsh and strenuous conditions in the North Sea, the UK and EU have become known for their ‘gold standard’ health and safety practices.
Making sure that the UK keeps its status as a gold standard for health and safety will be important for the future.
In certain industries where the country is already leading the way, such as offshore wind development, this is expected to continue. That will mean operators in such industries making sure that robust and workable emergency plans are put in place and regularly updated, while employees retain their levels of competency and skills and undertake regular refresher training such as work at height for site-specific risks and to meet industry recognised standards.
While staff training in areas such as working at height needs to be regularly refreshed.
We recently reported on the development of the production of green hydrogen, with projects in both Scotland and Germany starting to introduce this fuel source.
Germany has created a National Hydrogen Strategy, which will use approximately 3GW of energy produced by offshore wind turbines to produce green hydrogen.
In Scotland, meanwhile, SGN has started a project to introduce the UK’s first green hydrogen network in Fife, using offshore wind to generate the energy required for the electrolysis process that produces the green hydrogen.
Although these are two separate projects, it’s easy to see how organisations across the UK and EU are likely to develop initiatives and opportunities on renewable energy resources and generation in the future.
Keeping health and safety standards high in both markets will be essential not only to safeguard the workers but also to ensure that this part of the world remains at the forefront of the development of low and zero-carbon energy sources.
Of course, in addition to Brexit businesses now also need to plan for the potential impact of a second wave of Covid-19 infections and the prospect of another lockdown in the UK. Having business continuity plans in place for this eventuality is important.
However, a survey released by International SOS in June revealed that just 20 per cent of the businesses it spoke to were expecting problems related to the global pandemic to continue to disrupt their organisation in the coming six months.