You may have seen or heard that the HSE are currently carrying out spot inspections to ensure that businesses are COVID-secure.
What does this mean?
It means that you could potentially be visited by the HSE at any time and without prior warning.
This could be seen as quite a daunting proposition, however, we mustn’t forget that the HSE are there to support businesses, not just within the construction industry but across all sectors.
You will need to make sure that you are fully informed about what you need to do to be compliant and ensure that you comply with whatever they ask of you.
What will they be looking for?
HSE Inspectors will be checking to see if you have completed a suitable risk assessment to manage the risk of coronavirus in your business. Completing a risk assessment for coronavirus will help you to understand what you should do to work safely and protect people.
There is a legal duty on all employers to carry out risk assessments for their work activities and this requirement hasn’t changed. It is also worth noting that COVID-19 is now reportable under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations), where a person has been exposed to COVID-19 or dies from COVID-19 after being exposed whilst at work.
What else do I need to do?
Consultation with your employees is extremely important at any time but more so now. You will need to let them know the changes you will be implementing and how this will affect them. You will also need to get their feedback on proposed changes – employees may see things differently so it is important to get their views and make them feel that they’re included.
For those employees who are able to work from home, you must ensure that you provide them with the facilities to do this. This could mean providing them with technical equipment such as computers and of course you need to stay in regular contact with them to ensure that they are feeling supported and valued.
You will also need to support any employees that fall under the high-risk group categories and ensure that the measures you have in place within your workplace are strictly adhered to.
High-risk groups are:
- older males
- have a high body mass index (BMI)
- have health conditions such as diabetes
- are from some black, Asian or minority ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds
- pregnant workers
You must also ensure that your workplace is COVID-secure by following social distancing measures where practicable and where not, that other suitable and sufficient measures are in place such as the wearing of face coverings and cleaning / hand washing regimes.
There is a legal requirement for employers to provide suitable and sufficient welfare facilities. In these areas, provide signage for employees on how to wash their hands correctly; provide warm running water, soap and paper towels or hand dryers; provide hand sanitizer where washing facilities are not able to be supplied.
You may need to revise your current cleaning regimes especially of communal areas such as toilets and changing facilities. Remember to keep your employees informed of any changes made.
Where can I find further information?
You can access the HSE’s website where there are a number of useful documents that they have drawn up, here are a couple:
There is also our free coronavirus pack which can be downloaded here: https://www.qualitysafetytraining.co.uk/resources/
Stay healthy and safe, look after yourselves and your workforce