West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre has condemned false claims that Brexit will trigger a “race to the bottom” on worker’s safety.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, stressed Britain’s leading role in improving workplace safety when she spoke in a Strasbourg debate on carcinogens.
MEPs were assessing EU proposals for new Europe-wide limits on exposure to carcinogens and mutagens – but the UK already largely works to stricter levels.
She told the debate: “The limits originally set out in the Commission proposal were the result of many years of detailed work including evaluation and fitness checks.
“It was easy for me, coming from the UK, to agree to the majority of the proposed limits as we already have these lower limits in Britain.
“But as well as enforcing the exposure limits, Member States should be encouraging businesses to strive for the lowest levels possible – lower in fact than the levels set in legislation.
“I am very concerned by claims that a consequence of Brexit will be a race to the bottom for workers’ rights and health and safety standards.
“In fact, the UK has the highest health and safety standards and we have one of the lowest fatality rates among member states – second only to Malta.
“Our rates of work-related-ill health and of workers reporting that their job risks their health are lower than most other member states.
“There is an established and rigorous process for setting limits to ensure that they are evidence based, proportionate, measurable and achievable. As law makers we should respect this.”