UK exits the EU (talks 19th June start)

On Monday 19th June, talks begin between the UK and the EU to sort out the UK’s exit from the European Union.

On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union, in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. On 29 April 2017, the European Council – made up of the heads of state or government of the 28 EU countries – adopted a set of political guidelines, which define the framework for the negotiations and set out the EU’s overall positions and principles.

The EU is represented by Michel Barnier, as Chief Negotiator for the 27 EU countries. His taskforce at the European Commission coordinates the work on all strategic, operational, legal and financial issues related to the negotiations.

During these talks, the UK remains a full member of the EU. This means that all existing EU rights and obligations continue to apply to the UK.

The Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom are unique and differ from any other negotiation conducted by the European Union to date. Given their unprecedented nature, the European Commission has decided to adopt a tailor-made approach to transparency.

The EU transparency approach is set out here

Cardinal Environment Limited is not withdrawing from any market and will continue to service its UK, European and International clients as before. My Blog comments will post out regularly. Thank you!

New European Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (EU)

A further stage is reached yesterday in the creation of a new EU Directive to amend the existing Directive on this topic to introduce stricter limits on exposure values and skin notations for five carcinogens as well as skin notations independently of limit values for two more carcinogens, covering seven carcinogens in total.

The carcinogenic and mutagenic substances covered by the directive are the following: Mineral Oils that have been used before in internal combustion engines, certain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) mixtures, trichloroethylene, 4,4′-methylenedianiline, epichlorohydrine, ethylene dibromide, ethylene dichloride. 

The European Commission had submitted in January 2017 the proposed revision which concerns in particular annexes I and III of directive 2004/37/EC. 

The retained limit values are based on an analysis of economic, social and environmental impacts of the different policy options for each chemical agent, on the criteria of the scientific advice of the scientific committee on occupational exposure limits (SCOEL), effectiveness, efficiency and coherence. 

The limit values were also agreed by the advisory committee on health and safety at work (ACSH). 

This revision follows an earlier Commission proposal which already included 13 carcinogenic agents.

A further package of proposed limit values is expected to be adopted by the Commission at the beginning of next year. 

The current documents are found here

High Rise Tower Fire Checks (UK)

Update 6th July : new fire tests are ordered on cladding. So far, tests have covered only the plastic “core” on panels similar to those used on Grenfell Tower (and all but one fire test was a failure – 190 out of 191 samples). The new process will subject a demonstration wall to a “severe fire in a flat breaking out of a window” and aim to establish whether it will then spread up the outside wall. It will also assess how different types of aluminium composite material (ACM) panels behave with different types of insulation in a fire, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said.

Update 22nd June : DCLG letter is issued to local authorities and housing authorities of immediate safety tests to be undertaken should the cladding material fail Fire tests – this letter is here

Update 16th June : a public inquiry is announced amid calls for an inquest to be held into the deaths. Scotland Yard will also conduct a criminal investigation. 

A devastating fire started last night in a high rise tower block in Kensington, West London – many of you will be watching the news reels that are covering this.

Nick Hurd, appointed yesterday as Police and Fire Minister, has announced immediate fire safety checks of similar high rise blocks. The scope of these checks is not presently clear. The instruction appears to be to Local Authorities. 

Part B of the Building Regulations 2010 (fire safety) is in the spotlight and has been with the government for review since 2016, following a devasting fire in another tower bloc in 2009 and that coroner’s report issued in 2013. The current Part B documents are here

Please remember that employers’ obligations vis a vis Fire Safety are consolidated by the Fire Safety Order (the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005), and its equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland, these are in EHS Legislation Register systems, in the various Fire Safety Registers. The Building Regulations are found in ENV Energy. I will add the Part B documents to the OHS Fire Registers for completeness.

The Building Regulations are in the spotlight because of eye witness observations of the fast speed of fire spread. 

Concerns over external cladding were raised in the UK as early as 1999, here

This post will be updated, as and when further regulatory information is available.