The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is carrying out further spot inspections at businesses in Oldham and Pendle to ensure all workplaces are COVID-secure as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the areas.
HSE inspectors are busy calling and visiting businesses across all different sectors in both areas putting employers on the spot and ensuring they are COVID-secure.
HSE is providing advice and guidance to manage risk and protect workers but where some employers are not managing this, HSE will take immediate action. This can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.
To be COVID-secure means businesses need to keep up to date with the latest guidance and put measures in place to manage the risk and protect workers and others. There are five practical steps that businesses can take to do that:
Step 1. carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
Step 2. develop increased cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures
Step 3. take all reasonable steps to help people work from home
Step 4. maintain 2m social distancing where possible
Step 5. where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk.
To support the understanding of the rise in coronavirus cases in the area, HSE is working alongside Pendle Borough Council and Oldham Borough Council in the regulation of workplace health and safety and alongside local public health authorities.
Sally Nicholson, HSE Head of Operations, North West, said: “While the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to grow in both Oldham and Pendle, we are urgently talking to local businesses to understand how they are managing risks in line with their specific business activity.
“Employers have a legal duty to protect their workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk of coronavirus. While most businesses are following the guidelines, some are failing in their duty and neglecting to maintain things like social distancing measures and hand washing and hygiene procedures that are crucial in stopping the spread of the virus.
“Becoming COVID-secure is crucial for all businesses to tackle the rise in infection cases in the area and we will take action against workplaces that fail their duty.”
As inspections are ongoing, HSE has been utilising different ways to gather intelligence and reach out to businesses across Oldham and Pendle with a combination of site visits, phone calls and through collection of supporting visual evidence such as photos and video footage.
All businesses are in scope for inspections, that means any size business in any sector can receive an unannounced inspection.
Some of the common issues HSE inspectors are finding include: failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing, failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime – particularly at busy times of the day – and providing access to welfare facilities to allow employees to frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap.
Francine Cheney, HSE Head of Operations for Construction, said: “While we are busy targeting businesses in Pendle and Oldham, we want all workers to remain safe in the workplace and to continue to follow government guidelines travelling to work, back at home and socially.
“This way we can help stop the spread of the virus and if any employees do get any symptoms, they should immediately self-isolate, follow the test and trace guidelines and contact their manager at work.
“By working together and ensuring that all businesses in the area are COVID-secure, we can benefit the health of the local community while supporting the local economy.”
For more information on spot inspections, see hse.gov.uk.