A large proportion of the UK’s health and safety legislation, and therefore correspondingly the administrative burdens from this legislation, is derived from European legislation. While the European Union (EU) has launched a major administrative burdens reduction programme, HSE continues to work to influence the drive for better regulation within the EU, both as an individual organisation and as part of a central government drive, led by BRE. HSE ensures that the better regulation agenda is an integral part of its dealings with the EU.
In the 2008 Plan, HSE reported the delay in the implementation deadline of the Physical Agents (Electromagnetic Fields) Directive due to concerns about its impact on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in healthcare and industrial activities such as welding and power generation. The Commission, in 2009, published a review that assessed the impact of the Directive on both medical procedures and industrial activities such as welding and power generation. HSE continues to work with the Commission and other stakeholders to resolve these issues in a way that will ensure the Directive is evidence-based and we strike the right balance between protection of workers and benefit to society, particularly patients.
During the early part of 2009, the Consortium working for the Commission on its Administrative Burden Reduction Programme came up with a number of recommendations to reduce administrative burdens associated with the Health and Safety Framework Directive (89/391/EEC) and the Seveso II Directive (96/82/EC). In July, the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burden Reduction adopted an opinion that set out proposals to reduce administrative burdens associated with the Health and Safety Framework Directive, the Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive (92/57/EEC), the Biocidal Products Directive (98/8/EC) and Seveso II Directive. HSE worked closely with BRE to ensure that the Consortium was made aware of UK views. The UK also attended the meeting between the High Level Group and the Bureau of the European Commission‘s Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work, giving us an opportunity to present our views to inform the High Level Group’s opinion.
The Commission also asked for Member States to submit their own practical ideas for reducing administrative burdens. HSE worked with the BRE to submit two proposals covering the Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive and the Biocidal Products Directive.
HSE also successfully influenced the direction of a European Campaign on risk assessment, led by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. In line with HSE’s Sensible Risk Management campaign, HSE proposed to the Agency that the European Campaign for 2008-09 should emphasise that good risk assessment is not about completing paperwork for its own sake but is about identifying and taking practical actions that manage hazards and risks so that workers are protected. The Agency agreed to this approach.
HSE has continued its regular internal “checkpoint” meetings involving the policy teams responsible for the negotiation of European legislation, the International Unit, the Better Regulation Team and lawyers. These meetings provide advice and guidance for the negotiating team whilst at the same time providing a challenge function and ensure the following of better regulation principles in negotiating strategies.