The Covid-19 pandemic has been disruptive to many organisations and an outbreak of Coronavirus within your company can add further disruption and strain on your business. To combat this most businesses will already have put measures in place for minimising the likelihood that Covid-19 can spread within the business.
What are the HSE Doing?
As an incentive, the HSE are currently carrying out spot checks and inspecting businesses across the country to ensure that they are Covid-Secure. The HSE have a range of options for enforcing the law. These include:
- Providing advice.
- Stopping some working practices until they are made safe.
- Issuing an enforcement notice
- Or prosecuting businesses who fail to comply.
How are the HSE doing it?
Currently the HSE are adopting differing methods to carry out their Covid-Secure checks:
- You may get a telephone call requesting information about what arrangements you have put in place to ensure your workplace is Covid-Secure.
- You may get a visit from a Covid-Secure officer. These are contractors who have been appointed and trained by the HSE. They will ask you questions about your Covid-Secure control measures.
- You may get a visit from a HSE Inspector or Environmental Health Officer from your Local Authority. They may ask questions, speak with employees, and want to inspect the workplace.
Whichever method the Covid-Secure spot check uses it is important to cooperate and provide the information requested. Failure to comply may result in escalation of enforcement action.
It is also important to check that any caller is who they say they are. Any official visitor carrying out a Covid-Secure check will carry identification and an official letter of authorisation from the HSE. Telephone calls may come up as an unknown number, but you can verify the caller is genuine by calling the HSE 0300 790 6896.
What are the HSE looking for?
The HSE will want to confirm that you have taken action to ensure that your workplace is Covid-Secure. The steps you should have carried out include:
- Carrying out a risk assessment on your workplace.
- Ensuring that social distancing can be maintained. This should be 2 metres were possible. This can be reduced to 1 metre if necessary but other risk mitigating measures should be in place. Such as screens or face covering for instance.
- Working from home where possible. The HSE will want to see that you have provided any necessary equipment to facilitate safe homeworking and that you keep in touch regularly.
- Keeping the workplace clean, especially high touch areas such as door handles for instance.
- Ensuring there are facilities for hand washing with soap and water. Hand sanitiser which as at least 60% alcohol is also advisable.
- Maintaining good ventilation. Taking into consideration the weather conditions.
- Speaking to employees and providing information. A range of posters are available to remind employees about hand washing and social distancing etc.
- Finally, it is important to look after particularly vulnerable workers and make sure you have taken appropriate action to protect them.
By Ainslie Johnson CMIOSH – Risk Consultant