The recent spike in coronavirus cases in the North West has seen the HSE taking action by visiting businesses in Blackburn and surrounding areas to ensure they are COVID-secure. The inspectors are working alongside local public health authorities and local councils to check they are complying with the latest guidance. This is an approach mirrored across the country and should be noted by business owners across all areas of industry. The HSE has indicated that all sizes and types of businesses can receive unannounced inspections, including those which involve working from a vehicle, such as the transport sector.
In order to ensure compliance the HSE is regularly releasing guidance for businesses which sets out the adjustments and appropriate measures to protect workers and other third parties, and to effectively manage to risk. Businesses should be aware that the HSE inspectors are still conducting site visits at this time, whilst also making contact through telephone calls and through collecting evidence by way of video and photographic footage.
The HSE has confirmed that there have been are a number of common issues identified, including failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing, failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime – particularly at busy times of the day – and providing access to welfare facilities to allow employees to frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap.
There are five practical steps that the HSE have outlined to ensure compliance:
- Step 1 - Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
- Step 2 - Develop increased cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures
- Step 3 - Take all reasonable steps to help people work from home
- Step 4 - Maintain 2m social distancing where possible
- Step 5 - Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk
As always, HSE will provide advice and guidance but where the risk is not being managed effectively they have been clear that action will be taken including issuing enforcement notices, forcing business to stop work until they are deemed safe. Where there is a failure to comply the HSE will consider prosecution. Call us 0161 696 6250 or fill out our online enquiry form if you would like an initial discussion regarding an inspection.