Under the EU Retained Law Bill the Government are currently reviewing over 2,400 laws and regulations which are being considered for revocation following the UK’s exit from the European Union.
This includes the potential scrapping of the Working at Height Regulations (WAHR) by the end of 2023, with the government saying that these regs are burdensome or onerous for businesses to implement.
Since their introduction, the WAHR has had a positive impact in improving safety and reducing fatalities. In the year prior to their introduction (2003/04), there were 67 workplace fatalities (29% of total fatalities.) because of falls from height. This number has fallen to 29 in 2021/22. (24% of total fatalities.)
A coalition of bodies including BSIF, IOSH and NEBOSH have come together with RoSPA to provide a public face and a unified front for the sector to table an amendment signed by four cross-bench Peers, which asks the Government to take the health and safety of the nation seriously by publishing a health and safety impact report prior to the sunsetting of any legislation.
The Scaffolding Association have made it clear they are against the bill and have said “We are seeking urgent reassurance from ministers that the government does not intend to remove WAHR.”
Build UK has raised the issue with the HSE and CLC to ensure that key industry health and safety legislation including Work at Height Regulations, is not inadvertently repealed on this date. The Department for Business and Trade has confirmed that this is not the intention, Build UK have requested a statement to that effect.
Unchecked UK reports from its survey of 1000 UK businesses that 68% think this deregulation will cause uncertainty with 79% saying that they are not willing to accept lower health and safety standards.
We asked our trainers that deliver BSI and BSA, CISRs, IPAF and PASMA training for comment:
Head of Training at 3B, Pete Moore said:
“Falls from height are still the biggest cause of deaths in the construction industry, the abolition or relaxation of the regulations can only make the situation worse. If anything we need more stringent regulations linked to a more robust inspection regime.”
Scaffold trainer Matt Haddon said:
“I am in full support of the work at height regs not being scrapped, as falls from height remain the main cause of workplace fatalities, across all industries, not just construction, it is vital that employers have this framework in place to safeguard their employees. I really feel that removing them would be a massive step backwards for the UK.””
Trainer Jon Lunn agreed and added:
“Scrapping WAHR would take everything back to the dark ages when I started scaffolding so definitely not a good thing.”
“We feel it is imperative that WAHR are not scrapped. The regulations are an essential part of ensuring the health and safety of construction workers and reducing fatalities in the workplace.”
In terms of the suggestion that the WAHR are impracticable for construction companies to implement, our trainer Matt said: “I am yet to hear any delegate say a negative thing about having these regulations in place.”
In a recent All Party Parliamentary Group meeting on Working at Height in Westminster, industry leaders, trade bodies, and members of Parliament convened to discuss the potential consequences of the Work at Height Regulations being repealed.
The Access Industry Forum (AIF) has submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee, which is now considering the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.
The Access Industry Forum (AIF) unites the ten principal trade associations and federations involved in work at height: ATLAS, EPF, FASET, IPAF, IRATA, Ladder Association, NASC, PASMA, SAEMA and WAHSA.
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