What will Brexit Mean for Warehouse Safety Laws?
With a new Prime Minister at the helm, the government is going to have to spend a lot of time deciding what EU regulations the UK are going to follow and what ones they aren’t. And all of this could have a big impact on warehouse safety laws.
The EU, SEMA, HSE, and Storage Equipment Experts have had an intimate relationship over the last few years, with each one influencing the other. As a result of this four-way dialogue, warehouse racking inspections and racking inspection experts have become an integral part of warehouse safety.
Now that the UK has decided to leave the European Union, this relationship has the potential to change. Though just because something can change, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will. Theresa May has made it clear that her Brexit strategy will be to steady the ship, not rock the boat. Once again though, just because someone says they’ll do something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will.
So what exactly is stopping May from rewriting the HSE rulebook in the wake of Brexit?
Warehouse Racking Inspections are Key to the UK’s Survival Outside the EU
There are several reasons that rest of the world wants to trade with the UK, even outside of the EU, and one of them is our high safety standards. The UK has a lower workplace fatality rate than any other country in the EU. Safety standards like that are not just a good thing for workers and for workers’ rights activists; it’s good for business. In fact, it’s great for business. OSHA, the US government’s health and safety board, calculates that for every dollar spent on safety businesses can save up to six dollars.
Though not everyone agrees that all EU regulation is a good thing, and that’s precisely why campaigners like Boris Johnson argued that we should leave, and why — in the end — they won. However, even the most ardent Brexiteers don’t want the British workplaces to return to a pre-1974 era when there were 86% more workplace fatalities than there are today. The kind of deregulation Brexiteers want to see is the kind that will give the UK a stronger position in the global market, not a weaker one.
For those reasons, it’s highly unlikely that Theresa May will change many, or any, of the laws regarding warehouse and racking safety. The HSE’s relationship with SEMA and Storage Equipment Experts can remain strong without the EU’s influence. Moreover, it’s very difficult to say exactly how much influence the EU has (or rather had) over HSE in the first place. The EU writes directives, and EU countries have to enforce those directives. Though countries can also make transposition notes and, after years of amending the original EU directive, it’s hard to say whether the eventual law is a British one or a European one.
It’s true that SEMA and the EU have had a mutually beneficial relationship in the past. As a member of the European Federation for Materials Handling (FEM), SEMA has worked with other EU countries and organisations to discuss the future of health and safety within Europe. Even outside of the EU, SEMA could still play a big role in this organisation. Though the FEM is heavily associated with the EU, it is not the EU itself. The UK and SEMA still maintain an enviable health and safety record; Brexit has not changed that.
Even if SEMA were to leave to the FEM, it still would not necessarily be a bad thing. Over the past few years, SEMA and HSE’s relationship has become stronger and — outside the EU — it has the potential to grow even more. With HSE continuing to cut its funding, to strip back its operations, they have been looking for other organisations to fill the gap. With the EU gone, HSE will likely be looking to SEMA to help them craft future HSE codes, something which they have talked about in the past.
Post-Brexit, Racking Inspection Experts Need to Lead the Way
Warehouse racking inspections from racking inspection experts — specifically SEMA approved racking inspectors — have long been HSE’s secret weapon for maintaining warehouse safety. With the EU no longer under the influence of EU directives, SEMA’s definition of racking safety, and the manner in which they chose to train their racking inspectors, will become more important to HSE than ever before.
HSE, and British workplace safety in general, works best when different organisations work together towards a common goal. With regards to warehouse safety, this means HSE and SEMA working together. With the EU out of the picture, SEMA’s voice will become louder, not quieter. At Storage Equipment Experts, we welcome the leading role than SEMA will play in the future of post-Brexit warehouse safety. Our SEMA approved racking inspector will continue to deliver the best racking inspection training course in the UK as well as the highest quality of warehouse racking inspections.