The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is calling for businesses to make sure they’re COVID-secure as it steps up on the spot inspections.
Inspections have been on-going across Great Britain for several months now, however, a greater focus is being placed on areas where confirmed cases of coronavirus are still high, including Blackburn and Bradford.
As well as site visits, HSE is carrying out phone calls and collecting visual evidence, such as photos and video footage, to ensure businesses are complying with health and safety laws.
Being COVID-secure means being adaptable to the current guidance and putting measures in place to control the risk of coronavirus to protect workers and others.
Some of the most common issues that HSE and local authority inspectors are finding include: failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing, failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime – particularly at busy times of the day – and providing access to welfare facilities to allow employees to frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap.
Philip White, director of regulation at HSE, said: “Becoming COVID-secure should be the priority for all businesses. By law, employers have a duty to protect workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk and protect people from coronavirus. It’s important that workers are aware of the measures that will be put in place to help them work safely.”
HSE says it will take action against employers not managing the risk and that this can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.
Philip continues: “All sectors and business of all sizes are in scope for inspections and we will ask questions of duty holders to understand how they are managing risks. We understand that the vast majority of employers want to make their workplaces secure and are doing everything they can to keep people and their business safe and healthy.
“Ultimately, becoming COVID-secure benefits the health of our nation; the health of our communities, of businesses and the health of the UK economy. As a nation, we can’t afford not to become COVID-secure.”
There are five practical steps that HSE expects businesses to take:
1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in line with HSE guidance
2. Develop increased cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures
3. Take all reasonable steps to help people work from home
4. Maintain 2m social distancing where possible
5. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk.