As we continue to navigate a path through these unprecedented times, the latest communication from the Government stated that some lockdown restrictions are to be relaxed. This is especially relevant with employers who are planning a staged return to business activities. We have actually been contacted by a small number of businesses who have already started this process.
Although we are in a fluctuating environment with advice changing daily, the latest advice from the Government is that people should work from home where at all possible. Where people cannot work from home, they are encouraged to go back to work with employers implementing suitable precautions and avoiding public transport where at all possible.* The construction and manufacturing industries were specifically mentioned in the latest Government bulletin, (10.05.2020).
Businesses still have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers and others who may be affected by their actions. This includes businesses playing their part in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Before any staged return to work can be implemented, each employer must have undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of how they will protect workers, and others against the virus. A COVID-19 policy must also be implemented with all workers suitably informed of the protection measures implemented and their role in helping preventing the spread of the virus.
The latest Government guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) are monitoring to ensure that businesses have complied with the requirements of The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations in respect of this virus.
It has recently been revealed that the HSE has received over 4,500 complaints since the first UK case of coronavirus was confirmed. The HSE issued a warning to employers that it would hand out enforcement notices to those who do not comply with the two-metre social distancing rule in workplaces that remain open during the outbreak.
The workplace safety regulator said it was now working through the reports, received since March, with a ‘range of actions’.
Contact us for further advice and help in undertaking a suitable risk assessment and implementing a practical COVID-19 policy if you are planning a return to work.