2020 Vision – 3 Reasons to be Cheerful

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2020 Vision - 5 Reasons to be Cheerful

2020 has the look of a great year. Just the numbers laid out beside each other. 2019 appeared awkward (and it was, very) but 2020 has a calming, hopeful look to it. It’s an Olympic year and there’s something Olympian about the way the numbers sit on the page.

I’ve never studied Numerology but I Googled ‘2020’ and, sure enough, Numerologists have the same view – 2020 will calm you down, focus you on what matters, and ultimately support you to build your dreams.

I’ll take whatever optimism there is out there and look forward to 2020 with the belief that it’s going to be a good year.

But, what of health and safety? What are the opportunities for better safety performance and improved wellness? What are the big trends and how can we be optimistic about them? Here are 3 together with reasons to be cheerful about each of them: Brexit, Data/Technology, and Wellness.


Without any commentary on the merits or otherwise of Brexit, the somewhat revised Withdrawal Agreement is with Parliament today with a view to being consummated on January 31st, 2020.

We’ll come back to those revisions shortly, but first let’s quickly review UK Law and EU law from a health & safety perspective.

The single, definitive piece of information produced thus far is The Health and Safety (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018. This basically states that the UK will adopt all EU legislation and that, consequently, health and safety law post-Brexit will be as it is today. Certainly in 2020 we’re highly unlikely to see changes.

While the EU has undoubtedly ensured stricter health and safety laws in the UK in some areas, the foundation of UK Health and Safety law is still the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which is UK legislation. Further, since stronger alignment with the EU, the UK has gone beyond the laws set by the EU to produce stricter legislation. The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is one example.

It’s not as if the UK has been dragged kicking and screaming in line with EU health and safety legislation, far from it and, indeed, when the EU introduced its Health and Safety Directive in 1989,  the UK had to make very few changes to achieve compliance.

These examples are cause for optimism going forward.

Of course, one of the revisions introduced to the Withdrawal Agreement post-election and sitting before the Commons today is the removal of the clause “providing additional procedural protections for workers’ rights that currently form part of EU law, but which would not be protected against modification, repeal or revocation in domestic law once the transition or implementation period has ended (what was clause 34 and Schedule 4)”.

This would have kept the UK lock-step in line with EU legislation on workers’ rights after the transition period. Glass half-empty says that this is the first step in the erosion of workers’ rights and, likely, broader health and safety laws. Glass half-full says that we have exceeded EU requirements in the past and can continue to do so in the future, in which case why do we need to be tied to those EU laws in perpetuity?

Beyond 2020, we will likely have new trade agreements to establish beyond the EU. Most likely to have an impact towards the end of this parliament, and not without cause for concern for health and safety legislation in the longer term; these agreements are feared to see a race to the bottom in terms of deregulation as the UK looks to maintain competitiveness. Whether this comes to pass is to be seen, but the opportunity is for health and safety professionals to demonstrate to their Boards that health and safety is a path to improved business performance rather than a hindrance to it.

We’ll cover the other 2 reasons to be cheerful in 2020 in successive posts in the New Year. For now, we wish you a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous, Optimistic and Calm New Year. Who’d have thought we’d end 2019 with Numerology?

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