The Government’s words on “race to the top” must be backed up with action

Sir, Since the 1974 Health & Safety at Work Act, Britain has led the world in workplace safety. Safer workplaces have underpinned Britain’s prosperity, ensuring workers can return home unharmed at the end of each day. 

Today, UK workplace health and safety is a global success story. British standards have been adopted in the Middle East, Asia and across the Commonwealth, over a third of the global population.

Underpinning these world-class standards is almost 50 years’ of EU legislation. Successive British governments led the drive to secure the freedom to work safely right across the continent.

The Government has pledged that Brexit will spark a “race to the top” in terms of regulatory standards and protection. These words must now be backed up with actions, and there are three steps that can be taken to realise this ambition.

Firstly, the UK should continue to play a leading role in institutions like CENELEC and EU-OSHA to ensure we remain a rule maker, not a rule taker. Secondly, the Government should commit to preserving the protection that current EU legislation affords to UK workers and the wider public, as enshrined by the Great Repeal Bill.

Finally, Brexit offers the opportunity to improve product certification and marking regimes, to give businesses and consumers confidence that the products they buy are not just fit for purpose, ethically procured, but also an enduring tenet of our leadership in this field.

We call on the Government to ensure that nobody is less safe as a result of Brexit. The British people voted to leave the EU; they did not vote to make their workplaces and their lives more dangerous.

  • Thomas Martin, Chairman, Arco Ltd
  • Emma Hardy MP
  • Diana Johnson MP, Member of the Health and Social Care Committee
  • Lord Harris of Haringey, Chair, National Trading Standards
  • Leon Livermore, Chief Executive, Chartered Trading Standards Institute
  • Errol Taylor, Chief Executive, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
  • Jonathan O’Neill OBE, Managing Director, Fire Protection Association
  • David Thomas, Director, Heightsayfe Ltd
  • Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute for Environmental Health
  • Stefan Groch, Chair, Health and Safety Lawyers Association
  • Professor Paul Almond, Professor of Law, University of Reading
  • Teresa Budworth, Chief Executive, NEBOSH
  • Kevin Bell, Health and Safety Manager, Moores Furniture Group