As workers return to the workplace, employers are having to adapt their working environments to manage the risk posed by coronavirus. To minimise the risk of infection in the workplace, HSE is carrying out spot checks and inspections on businesses to ensure they are COVID-secure. In fact SG World welcomed a HSE inspector on site for a surprise spot check only last week to assess our own Covid safety measures. The inspection process worked through a standard set of questions and a site tour to show the changes we’d introduced into the site such as hand sanitiser stations and signage.
“As well as talking about our risk assessments and what we'd changed in our business as a result, we were able to demonstrate the high visibility we were giving to our COVID safety with the strategic placement of supporting signage throughout the building”, recalled Russell Barnard, SG World Health and Safety Lead.
The spot checks will cover all types of businesses, in all areas providing advice and guidance to manage risk and protect workers, customers and visitors. Where businesses are not managing this risk the HSE may provide specific advice or take the more serious steps of:
issuing enforcement notices
stopping certain work practices until they are made safe
prosecution where a business fails to comply
The HSE are working closely with local authorities to assist them in their targeting of premises in the sectors they regulate. The latest spot check in October targeted Sefton, part of the Liverpool City Region that had just been placed in the highest lockdown tier.
Sally Nicholson, HSE Head of Operations, North West, said: “Across the country we are working with local authorities, like Sefton Council, ensuring businesses are checked and are COVID-secure.
“All workplaces are in scope which means businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced check, by us or a local authority.
“Working with the HSE has enabled us to target the whole of the Sefton area from small businesses to large manufacturers, whether Local Authority or HSE enforced, ensuring all workplaces understand the importance of being COVID-secure.”
Some common issues across a range of sectors that include: failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing, and failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime particularly at busy times of the day.
The HSE briefly stopped carrying out spot checks in March, after the lockdown was announced. By May it had received more than 4,500 complaints relating toworkplace COVID safety. Inspections have since restarted with over 10,000 businesses being contacted to investigate if they are COVID-secure. A further 5,700 spot inspections have been completed and 3,000 COVID enquiries from the public have been dealt with.