HSE steps up COVID spot checks as lockdown eases
As we continue the roadmap out of lock down and more businesses re-open, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says it’s working with local authorities to carry out spot checks and inspections on local businesses.
The reopening of the economy means that the opportunity for COVID to spread is increased substantially, so the HSE says it’s critical that businesses shouldn’t become complacent, i.e., they still need to have COVID-secure measures in place.
The HSE is calling and visiting all types of businesses, in all areas, to check the measures they’ve put in place to manage the risk from coronavirus, are in line with the current guidance. This includes businesses that have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, those that have recently reopened and those due to open in the coming weeks.
The body is continuing to work closely with local authorities, assisting them in their targeting of premises in the sectors they regulate such as hospitality and retail.
During spot checks and inspections, the HSE provides guidance and advice where required, but where businesses aren’t managing the risk, action will be taken. This can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices and stopping certain work practices until they are made safe. Where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.
The COVID-secure measures businesses should have in place include:
- Risk assessment: every workplace should have a COVID risk assessment. Update it to reflect any changes in legislation or guidance that may impact your work activity.
- Social distancing: where possible you should keep people two metres apart. If this is not viable, keeping one metre apart with risk mitigation, such as screens, is acceptable.
- Cleaning, hygiene and handwashing: keeping your workplace clean reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread. It is a critical part of making and keeping your business COVID-secure.
- Ventilation and air conditioning: can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
- Talk to workers: provide information about providing support and maintaining control measures.
- Working from home: provide the equipment they need, keep in regular contact and discuss their wellbeing.
- Vulnerable workers: talk to staff, provide information and consider the risk to workers who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus – putting controls in place to reduce that risk.
Angela Storey, Director of Transformation and Operational Services at HSE, said: “As we come out of lockdown, we are continuing to work with local authorities to check businesses are COVID-secure and providing guidance and advice where needed.
“Our spot checks and inspections support the cross-government work in helping employers and employees that have worked throughout the pandemic and those returning as lockdown measures ease. All workplaces are in scope for spot checks which means businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced check from HSE or an inspection from the local authority, to check they are COVID-secure.
“If you are contacted by the HSE or your local authority, please engage with us. By checking businesses have measures in place to manage the risks, we can benefit the health of local communities as well as support the local and national UK economy.”
Further information on spot checks and inspections is available on the HSE website.