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Joint letter to ministers to drop the dangerous Retained EU Law Bill

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About the letter

Unions, employers, and occupational health and safety bodies have written to the government to raise concerns about the Retained EU Law Bill. It is dangerous legislation which threatens to rip up key workplace safety protections. 

The Bill will automatically scrap thousands of pieces of EU legislation currently transposed into UK laws by the end of the year – including vital workplace safety protections such as regulations on asbestos – unless parliament passes new laws to retain them. 

This joint letter sets out why the Bill should be ditched. 

Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP
Secretary of State for Business and Trade

Rt Hon Mel Stride MP
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions


Dear Secretaries of State

Workplace health and safety and the Retained EU Law Bill

We are writing as representatives of workers, employers and professionals in occupational health and safety.

We are deeply concerned about the potential impact of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill on workplace health and safety.

The effect of the Bill would be to automatically sweep away thousands of pieces of legislation and upend decades-worth of case law. With no indication from ministers about which parts of the current regime will be retained, reformed or allowed to lapse, there is huge uncertainty about which rules will be in place less than 10 months from now.

This is of enormous concern to all of us because it is not an exaggeration to say that workplace health and safety can be a matter of life and death.

There were 123 workplace fatalities in 2021/22, compared to 495 in 1981, with thousands more deaths due to work-related ill-health, and over half a million non-fatal injuries. While more needs to be done to protect workers, putting in question all the regulations that currently underpin the regime is a dangerous approach.

Here are three key examples of significant pieces of EU-derived legislation that is at risk from this Bill:

1. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Currently 5,000 people a year die in Great Britain from asbestos-related diseases. These regulations provide a vital framework for the management of asbestos including for building owners and those removing it.

2. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This is a core element of the country’s health and safety regime and includes requirements on conducting risk assessments, appointing competent people and arranging training.

3. Work at Height Regulations 2005. These protect workers by requiring proper planning of work, that those undertaking the work are competent and impose duties to avoid risks from fragile surfaces, falling objects and danger areas.

These examples provide merely a snapshot of the protections at risk.

We urge you to rethink the current approach to ensure that we don’t see a return to the rates of fatal and serious workplace injuries last experienced in the 1970s and 1980s. This would damage the UK’s standing as a global leader on occupational health and safety, undermine good employers and have terrible consequences for workers.

Yours sincerely

The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

British Medical Association

The British Occupational Hygiene Society

The British Safety Council

The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors

The Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association

The Chartered Society for Physiotherapists

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development

The Faculty of Occupational Medicine

Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing

Institute of Occupational Health

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)

International Institute for Risk and Safety Management


Mesothelioma UK

NHS Health at Work

The National School of Occupational Health

The Royal College of Occupational Therapists

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

The Royal College of Nursing

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

The Society of Occupational Medicine

Trades Union Congress


UK Rehabilitation Council

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