The recent increase in UK COVID-19 cases illustrate how COVID-19 still poses a threat to us all. Unannounced visits and spot checks continue to be carried out by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure that businesses are working safely and assessing and addressing COVID-19 risks. Click here to check the latest GOV.UK guidance. If you receive a call or visit from the HSE, you should participate in the spot check as failure to follow current health and safety guidance could lead to enforcement action.
Under the management of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers still have a duty to manage the risks of COVID-19 within their workplace and implement proportionate controls to protect staff and others, as far as reasonably practicable, which are in line with business activities and aligned with COVID-19 case levels within the local area.
What should be in place?
· COVID-19 risk assessment
· Communication of protocols to employees
· Increase hygiene practices
· Social distancing (if possible)
We need to work together to reduce transmission and a big part of ensuring workplace compliance is worker behaviour. This needs to be clearly specified within company policies to avoid any misunderstanding among your workforces. Key policies must be easily accessible to everyone at all times and there should be regular communication with the workforce to help promote the correct behaviours. The HSE have produced a guide on talking to workers and their representatives to help instil responsibility, confidence and ownership. Only 25% of employers have prioritised communication with their employees, but 60% of employees say they’re not confident in their employer’s actions.
It is also worth remembering that your employees will also be keeping an eye on how well you are maintaining COVID-security in your workplace. Some staff will be back in the workplace and would rather still be working from home. There are lots of potential claims they could bring against a business if they feel the employer is not doing what they should to protect them. Failing to enforce compliance could give rise to a claim because it would be a breach of an employer’s duty if they fail to look after the health and safety of their employees.
The Employment Tribunal Service has said they will prioritise COVID claims amid their backlog– so it pays for every employer to make sure that they are compliant when it comes to COVID!