New environmental regulations are outnumbering new health and safety regulations by more than ten to one in the UK.

NEBOSH (The National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) said that from August 2009 to August 2010 more than 50 new environmental regulations had been introduced in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (1). During the same period, just five new health and safety regulations had come into effect (2).

“The legislative framework for environmental management has grown rapidly in recent years, and this has continued over the past 12 months,” said NEBOSH Chief Executive, Teresa Budworth. “Anyone responsible for environmental management where they work has certainly had a lot to deal with when it comes to keeping up with legislation.”

It has been a different story with health and safety regulations, said Teresa: “The few regulations that have been introduced over the past 12 months have either been very minor amendments, or have only affected specific industries.

“It’s been that way for a while now. In fact, there’s been far more emphasis put on simplifying existing health and safety legislation in recent years, instead of introducing new laws.”

However, this has meant little in the way of respite for health and safety managers. Recent research by NEBOSH has shown that more than half of health and safety managers are now responsible for managing environmental issues at work. (3)

Job titles have been changing to reflect this shift in responsibilities, with many Health and Safety Managers known as ‘Health, Safety & Environmental (HSE) Managers’ or ‘Health, Safety, Environmental and Quality (HSEQ) Managers’.

“At NEBOSH, we’re now encouraging health and safety managers to enhance the qualifications they already hold with appropriate level environmental qualifications.

“It takes a lot of know-how to manage environmental matters at work and anyone doing so should be able to demonstrate this knowledge to employers, just as with health and safety.”