A couple of issues have arisen that I wanted to write about. So you get two blogs for the price of one. You lucky people.
Part 1: The Impact of Brexit
The UK has now left the EU and we are in the transition period that ends on 31st December 2020.
If you are a student studying a UK health and safety course you may be wondering about the impact of Brexit on your course syllabus, contents and assessments.
The easy answer for most students on ‘National’ courses (i.e. courses with a UK focus) is that nothing will change.
The reality is that the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EUWA) simply carries over all existing EU legislation that was not UK legislation already (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/16/contents/enacted).
So, for example, The Health and Safety at Work Act was fully ‘home-grown’ British legislation and stays on the statute book as it has done for the last 45 years. Regulations made by Parliament to meet the requirements of an EC Directive (e.g. MHSWR) were passed by Parliament (even if the reason was to meet an EC requirement) and so will stay. And direct acting legislation such as REACH and CLP (that govern matters such as the classification and labelling of chemicals) will remain in force as a direct consequence of the EUWA.
If you check out the HSE website you will see that their Brexit page (https://www.hse.gov.uk/brexit/index.htm) sets out the basic principles and indicates areas where there have been some changes.
If you are studying on any national health and safety course such as IOSH Managing Safely or NEBOSH General Certificate there will be no impact on your studies or on your assessments.
Except Perhaps for National Diploma Students
The only exception to this ‘no change’ approach seems to be for students on the NEBOSH National Diploma course. Specifically Unit A. For these students the impact of Brexit should be a positive one – it removes a chunk of the syllabus guide from examination.
To quote from page 4 of version 10 of the NEBOSH Diploma syllabus guide: (https://www.nebosh.org.uk/qualifications/national-diploma-in-occupational-health-and-safety/#resources):
Relevant new legislation will become examinable in detail six months after its date of
introduction. However, students will be expected to be up-to-date at the time of the
examination and, whilst detailed knowledge will not be expected, reference to new or
impending legislation, where relevant to an examination question, will be given credit.
Please note, NEBOSH will not ask questions related to legislation that has been repealed,
revoked or otherwise superseded.
So the first paragraph applies to the new EUWA; meaning it would be directly examinable from the end of August 2020. But there is nothing H&S specific in the Act other than the general principle that things continue as per normal (with regards to domestic legislation) up to the end of the transition period.
The second paragraph means that Section 2.3 The Role of the European Union of Element 2 Principles of Health and Safety Law will be pretty irrelevant and therefore hopefully will be ignored by the examiner. Also small parts of topic 2.1, about European Directives and Regulations, and topic 2.5, about the European Court of Justice, become irrelevant as well.
The official NEBOSH view appears to be that technically these sections remain in the syllabus, and therefore are technically open to examination. But I don’t have any time for that argument as the European Union no-longer has a role in making UK health and safety legislation and we don’t have any MEPs or a European Commissioner, etc. Personally I think that it would be strange and dysfunctional to focus on this topic as we move through the Transition Period. But then I don’t set the Unit A exams so who knows….
[With thanks to Zoe Neasham, our Newcastle trainer, for providing insight into the official NEBOSH line].
Until after The Transition Period ends
Once the transition period ends then specific pieces of H&S legislation may be repealed, revoked or amended. But please bear in mind that NEBOSH have a 6 month moratorium on asking direct questions on new legislation. So if you are a NEBOSH National Diploma student looking at any of the January 2021 exams you should not be concerned as it seems very unlikely that any significant changes will happen during the transition period itself and any changes that happen after the transition period will have to exist in law for at least 6 months before they become directly examinable.
So it is likely that we won’t see a significant impact on any health and safety course contents or assessments (other than on National Diploma as outlined above) until the middle of 2021 onwards.
RRC Tutor Andrew Ashford wrote a blog in June of 2016 that seems as relevant today as it was when it was written. The only thing that has changed is that Andrew was writing before we knew that Brexit would happen whereas now we know that it has happened (whatever it is).
This blog post has been updated as of 19th February 2020.
Dr Jim Phelpstead BSc, PhD, CMIOSH