The HSE has said that “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”.
Practically, this means that all organisations need to be prepared for spot checks by the HSE (and local authorities); they need to ensure that they are following both the Government and HSE general guidance and, where relevant, sector specific guidance.
The HSE explained that some of the most common failings they have come across so far 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
- failing to provide access to welfare facilities to allow employees to frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap.
Whilst the HSE seek to support businesses and organisation in their efforts to become “COVID-secure”, they have wide ranging enforcement powers and will exercise these where necessary; enforcement action can be wide ranging from preventing certain business practices until compliance is achieved through to a criminal prosecution.
In order to work towards being COVID-secure and to avoid enforcement action, the HSE has identified five practical steps that businesses should 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; and
5. where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk.
The key is to ensure that your business is doing all that is reasonably practicable to manage the risks presented by COVID-19. We understand that there is no one size fits all solution; we have a proven track record of supporting businesses across many different sectors and industries through the complexities and challenges of the ever changing regulatory framework in which they operate.
In addition, our team of former HSE Inspectors offer practical and realistic expert advice and assistance. We have a unique knowledge of how the regulator works and what they look for, which adds real value to the service we provide to your business.
If you have any queries in regard to how to effectively work towards being COVID-secure or in respect of health and safety generally, please contact the Regulatory and Corporate Defence Team who will be happy to assist you.
This article is from the summer 2020 edition of Health and Safety Help!, our newsletter for professionals tasked with health and safety matters. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. Law covered as at August 2020.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at August 2020.