Plan and Manage the Return to the Workplace – the HSE will be watching you

Lives and livelihoods could be at stake if organisations do not PLAN and MANAGE the return to work following the relaxation of the Coronavirus Lockdown. Indeed, companies that don’t follow coronavirus safety rules could face prosecution, the head of the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned.

Working with Covid-19

Sarah Albon, of the HSE, told Tuesday’s Downing Street briefing that not following the Government’s new “COVID-secure” guidance is “a criminal offence”. She went on to say:

Inspectors can require businesses to do certain things – enforcement notices, requiring them to take particular kinds of action.

In the most extreme circumstances if there is a risk of serious injury to an individual employee they can issue a notice which prohibits certain activities from taking place.

Breach of those kind of enforcement notices is essentially a criminal offence and we can prosecute people who fail to do the right thing.

Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary, also urged workers to report any workplace they felt was unsafe.

He told the Downing Street coronavirus briefing:

Employers have a duty to keep employees safe in the workplace, that is absolutely enshrined in law.

If somebody feels their workplace is not safe they have to take that up with their employer.

If they don’t feel they are getting any traction they absolutely should get in touch with the Health and Safety Executive or the local authority.

On Monday, Alok Sharma released a business plan outlining the steps businesses would have to take to stay in line with safety rules, and he commented that companies that wanted to reopen would be subject to spot (enforcement) checks.

As with so many things, businesses need to PLAN and MANAGE the return to the Workplace.