BSC demands post-Brexit safety assurances following attorney general’s Commons admission
10 Dec 2018
The British Safety Council has renewed demands that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union must not erode progress made over the last four decades.
Chairman Lawrence Waterman was responding to statements made by the attorney general Geoffrey Cox regarding safeguards after Brexit.
“The government has repeatedly stated that there are safeguards for employment protections in the backstop – the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement’s arrangements that will be triggered and hold sway until all parties agree to a comprehensive trade policy,” he stated.
“However, in Parliament, in answer to some probing questions, the attorney general Geoffrey Cox admitted on Monday 3 December that these clauses are ‘not enforceable’.”
Adoption of EU directives into the UK legislative framework had been instrumental in the continual improvement in areas such as workplace health, safety and welfare standards, together with the protection of workers’ rights and product safety said the BSC.
Politicians who brought us the assertion that ‘health and safety is a burden on business’ are going back on their previous declaration that employment rights and environmental protections are safeguarded
Lawrence Waterman, chairman, BSC
This had resulted in dramatic reductions in workplace fatalities and injuries, as well as enhanced recognition of occupational health issues said the organisation in a public statement.
“The politicians, who brought us the assertion that ‘health and safety is a burden on business’ and a commitment to destroy health and safety culture, are now going back on their previous declaration that employment rights and environmental protections are safeguarded under their deal due to the presence of non-regression clauses,” cautioned Waterman.
“It has now been admitted that these clauses are not enforceable internationally by the EU institutions or by the arbitration mechanisms under the Withdrawal Agreement, claiming that this gave the UK ‘regulatory flexibility’ during the backstop.
“This reinforces the British Safety Council’s view that we shall need to watch developments closely, to protect hard-won worker protections.”