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  • Rob Haywood

How does the UK health and safety legislation in 2024 compare to regulations in other European countries?

As we proceed in 2024, your expertise in health and safety legislation is crucial in examining the state of affairs in the UK and comparing it to regulations in other European countries. The UK's longstanding commitment to prioritizing health and safety in the workplace is a testament to our collective efforts, and as we progress, it's essential to understand how our regulations compare to those of our European counterparts.


So, how does the UK health and safety legislation in 2024 compare to regulations in other European countries?


Padlock over EU map
Padlock over EU map


In the UK, health and safety legislation is primarily governed by the Health and Safety at Work Act, among others. Act 1974 sets out employers' general duties towards employees and members of the public, and employees have to themselves and each other. This overarching legislation is supported by various regulations and guidelines covering specific health and safety aspects in different industries.


One key feature of UK health and safety legislation is the principle of "reasonable practicability," which requires employers to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their employees. This flexible approach allows businesses to tailor their health and safety measures to their specific circumstances while maintaining high standards of worker protection.


When comparing UK health and safety legislation to regulations in other European countries, it's important to consider the differences in legal frameworks, cultural attitudes towards health and safety, and regulation enforcement.


For example, countries such as Germany and the Netherlands have well-established systems of work councils and strong workers' representation, which play a significant role in shaping health and safety practices within companies. In contrast, the UK emphasises the role of health and safety representatives and committees in unionised workplaces.


Additionally, some European countries have specific regulations beyond the minimum requirements set out by EU directives. For instance, Scandinavian countries are known for their high health and safety standards, with comprehensive regulations covering a wide range of workplace hazards.


As the UK charts its post-Brexit course, there are promising opportunities to review and potentially enhance existing health and safety legislation to better align with international best practices. Your input as relevant stakeholders, including employers, employees, and health and safety experts, is invaluable in this process.


In conclusion, the UK's robust framework of health and safety legislation is a testament to our collective efforts. By examining different approaches to health and safety, we can continue to enhance our regulations and ensure the highest standards of protection for workers across all industries. Your role as stakeholders is pivotal in this ongoing process.

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