Covid spot-checks reveal wider health and safety breaches
A contractor was recently prosecuted after a Covid-19 spot check revealed multiple breaches in health and safety. How can employers protect themselves from a similar outcome?
With Covid-19 taking priority for many health and safety professionals, it seems that the other aspects of safety may be being forgotten.
In one instance, a construction contractor was fined after multiple health and safety issues were found during a proactive Covid spot check in Manchester. This included welfare, working at height, site security, electricity, and Covid-19. After issuing two improvement notices, HSE saw no marked improvement at a return inspection. As a result, the principle contractor was sentenced to a 12-month community order and ordered to pay £3,000 towards costs and a victim surcharge of £95.
What are the key learnings for employers?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, HSE has carried out more than 316,000 Covid spot checks, aiming to reduce transmission risks. However, during these visits employers should be aware that general health and safety controls will also be under scrutiny. Therefore employers must ensure all usual health and safety controls are in place, and not purely focus on Covid-19.
This case also stresses that if your business does breach health and safety rules, and is issued with a notice to improve their workplace, to take this very seriously. We’d advise you to seek professional support to assess your premises and take immediate action on what’s advised. That way, during your return inspection, you can feel confident in the knowledge you’ve done all you can to make your workplace safe.
As HSE inspector Rebecca Vaudrey said: “We’ve repeatedly stressed that prosecution is a last resort, but this case clearly illustrates that where there is consistent disregard to COVID or other risks to employees’ health and safety, HSE will use its powers to take action.”