I’ve been lucky enough to go on holiday in the UK this year – staycationing is the new norm for many people now. A big part of a holiday is being able to go out for a nice meal, and leaving the cooking and washing up behind. However, my own holiday experiences show that this has proven difficult.
The hospitality industry is struggling to fill their vacancies for front of house staff, kitchen staff etc, due to overseas staff not returning to the UK for their seasonal jobs, and of course, a global pandemic with people becoming ill and having to isolate. The question for restaurants, pubs and cafes is, do they open with reduced capacity staff, to try to make up for those months of lost income during lockdown, and if so, can they do this safely?
The need for staff is not limited to the hospitality industry either – we are all aware that the logistics and transport industries, building and agricultural trades, amongst other have all been massively affected over the last few months.
NHS staff have gone on record to state that their own and patient safety is now a concern due to lack of nursing staff. There have been publicised cases of HGV drivers, driving too many hours over the “safe limit”, due to them covering extra shifts because their colleagues have been “pinged” to stay at home or isolate or have developed coronavirus symptoms.
So whilst in “normal times”, a reputable employer with a mindful eye on the safety of their staff will have appropriate risk assessments in place, and adopt safe systems of work, is this something that is continuing to be upheld, during the current nationwide staffing crisis?
The HSE produced some alarming statistics recently in respect of accidents in the workplace:
- 142 workers were killed during the period 2020/2021 (to date)
- 65,427 injuries were employers were reported under RIDDOR (2019/2020)
- 38.8 million working days were lost due to work related illness and workplace injury (2019/2020)
65,427 seems like a horrendously high figure for workplace accidents, doesn’t it? But these were only the ones reported under RIDDOR. A Labour Force Survey revealed that almost 700,000 people sustained an employment related injury in the period ending 2019/2020.
It is clear that we are currently living and working through unprecedented times, and that businesses and employers everywhere are struggling to keep up their obligations to their employees under health and safety legislation as well as trying to maintain their business and keep them afloat.
So what can they do? Should they have reduced opening hours, cut shift hours down? Should they tell their customers that their orders can’t be met within previous timescales given? Should they close their businesses until they can open safely to protect their staff?
There are no easy answers here, but it’s likely that in the current climate, risks being taken at work are going to increase and along with these, accidents. You are also responsible for your own safety, and so if you are asked to do something during the course of your employment and it feels unsafe, then speak up, and see if there is something that your employer or the person in charge of health and safety at work can do to help or advise you. I think that we are all hoping for some kind of normality, going forward, but it is clear for now that there are very tough times ahead.
If you have been injured in the workplace and are wondering whether you have the right to make a claim, then please contact our personal injury team on 0161 696 6235 or complete our online enquiry form.