The spike in Coronavirus cases in Leicester is a game changer for enforcement of compliance with the health and safety rules that apply to UK businesses. So far there has been a light touch approach to the enforcement of the Covid-19 control measures in workplaces. The media reports of businesses disregarding the basic control measures leading to the imposition of a local lockdown has heightened the need for strict adherence to the Government guidelines and this will undoubtedly lead to more pro-active enforcement by HSE and local authorities.
The UK Government and the Health and Safety Executive, HSE, has now signalled it is stepping up spot checks on compliance within businesses. HSE has said:
"Inspectors are out and about, putting employers on the spot and checking that they are complying with health and safety law. Being COVID-secure means being adaptable to the current guidance and putting measures in place to control the risk of coronavirus to protect workers and others."
So, be prepared and ensure your business meets its legal obligations, can demonstrate compliance, produce a record of your risk assessment and display the required compliance certificate in your workplace.
Speaking on Sunday Health Secretary Matt Hancock issued further warnings from the Government about non-compliance. Asked if there was a link between employment practices in Leicester and the outbreak there, Mr Hancock described guidance for employers as "statutory guidance" backed up by fines.
"There are clearly some problems that have been under the radar in Leicester that need action", he told the BBC.
"We've seen outbreaks in clothing factories and in food factories and there are some quite significant concerns about some of the employment practices in some of the clothing factories in Leicester, they are important problems to deal with."
"We also have the authority to shut down the business if it doesn't follow the guidance."
Sunday 5th July 2020