• International Workplace
  • 27 November 2019

Government urged to provide certainty over future of health and safety

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has urged the UK Government to provide assurance and certainty on the future of the UK’s health and safety system, calling on any newly elected administration following the 12 December general election to prioritise workplace health and safety and publicly support the compelling economic case and social value of the UK’s world-leading health and safety system and regulatory regime.

IOSH is urging the next administration to:

  • Reskill the UK for a safer, healthier, sustainable future.
  • Radically improve the nation’s occupational health system.
  • Design good work into all public investment and infrastructure programmes.
  • Tackle exploitation of vulnerable workers and poor working conditions.
  • Urgently implement national building and fire safety reforms.

The IOSH Manifesto ‘Towards a safe and healthy world of work’, highlights key OSH themes for UK and other Governments to help ensure a safe, healthy and sustainable future.

Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement at IOSH, said:

“With an ageing workforce, technological changes, more insecure and ‘gig’ working, higher numbers of small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and self-employed – as well as increased overall employment figures – the need for better workplace health management in the UK is fast-reaching a crescendo.

“As the UK heads for a new government, it’s vital that public policy focus on health at work is properly prioritised. We need to tackle the record numbers of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety (last year reaching 602,000 cases) and the 300,000 people with long-term mental health problems losing their jobs each year.

“Good health and safety is good for business and effective regulation helps ensure many millions of lives and livelihoods are protected each and every day.”

Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) highlight the urgent need for ongoing action. These Great Britain’s safety and health costs at around £15 billion, plus an additional £12bn for new cases of occupational cancer.

An article by Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement at IOSH, on why the new government must prioritise workplace health is available on the IOSH Magazine website.

Meanwhile, the HSE has assured businesses that their duties to protect the health and safety of people affected by their work will not change after Brexit.

The HSE’s guidance, health and safety made simple: the basics for your business, will continue to help employers to comply with the law, and, the health and safety body says, businesses should continue to manage risk in a proportionate way.

The HSE has made minor amendments to regulations to remove EU references but legal requirements will remain the same as they are now. Health and safety standards will be maintained.

Guidance to help businesses prepare in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal (and therefore without an implementation period), is also available on the website.