The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other organisations such as the City of London Corporation are warning businesses not to be complacent with Covid-Safety amid rising cases of the Delta variant and following the pause to the easing of restrictions announced earlier this month.
Businesses must therefore continue following the current Government guidance on ‘working safely during coronavirus’ and ensure they have Covid-Secure measures in place, at least until 19 July 2021. On 14 June 2021, the City of London Corporation issued an urgent press release reminding businesses to follow the rules following concerns that there have been Covid-outbreaks in the City because of poor compliance with social distancing guidelines in some workplaces and hospitality settings. Other key Covid-Secure measures include:
— Emphasizing that everyone who can work from home, should do so.
— Hand-washing / sanitising.
— High-levels of fresh air ventilation.
— Face-coverings in appropriate spaces.
— Lateral-flow testing and reporting to management.
The HSE is working with local authorities to do a series of spot checks and inspections on businesses throughout England to check they have Covid-Secure measures in place, and importantly, that managers and employees are following them. This is to ensure employees, visitors and customers are kept safe, especially with the rising number of cases of the Delta variant.
What happens during spot checks and inspections?
The Officer visits and/ or calls businesses to check the Covid-Secure measures they have in place, that these are being followed and provides guidance and advice if required. These spot checks and inspections may be unannounced and apply to any industry-sector.
If businesses are not managing the risk of Covid as they should be, action will be taken against them. Such action may include:
— Issuing specific advice on what changes are needed.
— Issuing Improvement or other enforcement notices.
— Stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and in extreme circumstances, shutting them down until it is safe.
If businesses still fail to comply following these measures, they can be prosecuted.
It is also important for businesses to remember that Covid-19 is a “reportable disease” under RIDDOR and a report must be filed if:
— An accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus – this must be reported as a “dangerous occurrence”.
— An employee has been diagnosed as having Covid-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus – this must be reported as a case of “disease”.
— An employee dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus – this must be reported as a work-related death due to “exposure to a biological agent”.
These reporting requirements only apply to cases of “occupational exposure”, in other words, as a result of a person’s work. This not only covers employees such as laboratory technicians, nurses, healthcare workers and those involved with testing etc. but also those who have caught Covid through close working in food production units, warehouses and factories where Covid-secure protocols have not been followed.
For more information about how coronavirus may impact your business, from returning to the office and agile working to the position on vaccinations, self-isolating and RIDDOR reporting requirements please visit our dedicated coronavirus hub or get in touch.