HSE boss calls for ‘renewed vigour’ to make workplaces Covid-secure

Last week, the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) new chair used her first blog of 2021 to set out the organisation’s expectations of firms across Great Britain in the coming months.

Sarah Newton, who took over the top job at the HSE last August, reflected on the past year and the impact Covid-19 had, had on communities across the country.

So far during the pandemic, the HSE has completed more than 165,700 Covid-19 spot checks, responded to 210,000 concerns and supported public health bodies on 646 reported outbreaks. It is also leading a Covid-19 national study on the transmission of Covid-19 in the environment.

In her blog, Sarah said that with the anticipated emergency from the dark shadow of the pandemic ‘now is the time to apply renewed vigour to our work enabling Covid-secure workplaces. Drawing on what we are continuously learning from the data and science. With a focus on controlling risk, from identifying it to mitigating for it.’

She added that she believed the vast majority of businesses and workplaces were willing to follow the Government’s advice and make the necessary changes promptly without the HSE having to take enforcement action. However, Sarah added that where the organisation has needed to it has taken enforcement actions against firms that have failed to make their workplaces Covid-secure and that making workplaces Covid-secure is an ‘organisational priority’ for the HSE.

Being Covid-secure means businesses need to keep up-to-date with the latest guidance and put measures in place to manage the risk and protect workers, visitors and customers.

During their calls and visits, the HSE provides advice and guidance, but where businesses are not managing the risk, immediate action will be taken. It will either provide specific advice, stop certain work practices until they are made safe, issue enforcement notices or prosecute where a business fails to comply.

All workplaces are in scope for spot checks which means businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced check from HSE or an inspection from the local authority, to check they are Covid-secure.

There is advice available on the HSE’s website to help firms become Covid-secure which includes a raft of information about carrying out risk assessments, social distancing, cleaning, hygiene, handwashing, ventilation, air conditioning, advice for workers, working from home and vulnerable workers.

The HSE has also produced a page on its website about spot checks and inspections which includes a video on what firms can expect to happen during an inspection and inspector findings.

If your firm is struggling to cope with the demands of managing your Covid-secure requirements, including creating a Covid-19 Health and Safety Policy, a Covid-19 Risk Assessment and updating your Emergency Action Plan and training records, we can help you.

Acorn Safety Services is a certified Health and Safety Consultancy, providing health, safety and CDM compliance services to our clients across the UK. As a fully impartial company, you can be confident that the advice, guidance and training you receive from us will always be in your best interests.

Our own offices were recently inspected by HSE officers and were found to be Covid-secure compliant with all the necessary documentation and actions in place for staff and visitors.

If you need health and safety advice visit https://acornhealthandsafety.co.uk/ or contact us at info@acornhealthandsafety.co.uk or on 01604 930380.

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