Working during the Current Covid-19 Health Crisis
On Thursday 2nd April, HSE made it clear that, with the exception of some non-essential shops and public venues, they are not asking businesses to close. Instead employers are required to take all possible steps to enable their staff to work from home. If it is not possible to work from home, employees can still travel for work purposes, on the strict understanding that they are not showing any symptoms of the illness or are not living with someone who has within the previous 14 days.
Where people are required to work away from home, the employer must put in place measures to comply with Public Health England guidance on social distancing and hygiene.
For Construction Organisations
The CLC published the third version of their Site Operating Procedure on 15th April. The guidance sets out what Principal Contractors need to put in place for their sites to remain open, and for contractors the steps they need to put in place to ensure that their work activities can be completed in line with Public Health England’s advice.
Even as I write this, I have received another two emails from construction companies asking for advice as to how they can return safely to site.
For Manufacturing, Engineering and Other Businesses
Employers will need to review their working procedures to ensure that they too can meet the required levels of hygiene and maintain social distancing. Over the past few weeks we have been working with customers to help them implement best practices, like those recommended by the British Plastics Federation and the ADS Group.
It may seem odd that we can continue to work, yet in our private lives we must adhere to the strictest social distancing rules. The truth is, we are far more likely to come into close contact with others in social settings. We are also far more used to following instructions when at work, and therefore it is more likely that the requirements for social distancing can be maintained.
This was backed up by a joint statement issued by HSE, TUC & CBI on Friday 3rd April, where they explained that “Firms that can safely stay open and support livelihoods should not be forced to close by misunderstandings about Government guidance.” They went on to explain that the HSE would consider a range of actions, including enforcement notices for those companies failing to comply with Public Health England guidance.
One of the key control measures during this time is the need for ongoing monitoring and review of your arrangements to ensure compliance.
For this reason, over the past three weeks, we have been helping a lot of our customers to ensure that their places of work can comply with Public Health England guidance. We have been very pleased to find that social distancing was in place and operatives were taking a positive approach to the strict working conditions being implemented.
We continue to employ a team of consultants carrying out workplace inspections, so if you are in doubt that your site operatives are working safety, please book an inspection. Call 03456 122144 to speak to one of our team. We’ll take a look and offer practical advice to your site management where necessary and your report will contain photographic evidence and recommendations for improvement.
Director, Health and Safety