Businesses must remain Covid-19 secure, warns HSE

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned businesses that they must ensure they are Covid-secure as lockdown measures ease across the UK. 

According to the authority, inspectors will be “out and about”, spot-checking employers that they are complying with health and safety law. 

HSE defines “Covid-secure” as being “adaptable to the current guidance and putting measures in place to control the risk of coronavirus to protect workers and others”.

It suggests practical steps that businesses can take to do that including:

  • Carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment in line with HSE guidance
  • Develop increased cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures
  • Take all reasonable steps to help people work from home
  • Maintain two-metre social distancing where possible
  • Where people cannot be two-metre apart, manage transmission risk.

The HSE said it has utilised a “number of different ways” to gather intelligence on the compliance of businesses, including site visits, phone calls and the gathering of visual evidence, including photos and video footage. 

The authority warned it will “take action” if employers are found to be non-compliant with Covid-secure guidelines. 

The action taken may range from providing specific advice and issuing enforcement notices. In some instances, a failure to comply “could lead to prosecution”. 

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.’

He added: “All sectors and businesses 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.”

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