The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is contacting businesses in Greater Manchester to make sure workplaces are COVID-secure to help tackle the local outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
HSE is working alongside Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and local public health authorities to support the understanding of any patterns in the confirmed coronavirus cases in the area. Inspectors are out checking workplaces across Greater Manchester, putting duty holders and employers on the spot and ensuring that they are complying with the latest Safer Workplace guidance relevant to their sector.
Being COVID-secure means that businesses need to put in place workplace adjustments to manage the risk and protect workers and others from coronavirus. Businesses can do this by following five practical steps:
- 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.
Jane Carroll, HSE Regulatory Inspector in the North West, said: “The number of confirmed cases of the disease is currently high in the area. We are talking to local businesses and inspecting sites in and around Greater Manchester to understand how they are managing risks in line with their specific business activity.
“Becoming COVID-secure needs to be the priority for all businesses in Greater Manchester to tackle the rise in the number of cases. It is a legal duty for employers to protect their workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk and protect people from coronavirus. This means making workplace adjustments to become COVID-secure. We advise employers to work with their employees when implementing changes, to help increase confidence with workers, customers and the local community.”
As inspections across the country are on-going, HSE has been utilising a number of different ways to gather intelligence and reach out to businesses across the UK with a combination of site visits, phone calls and through the collection of supporting visual evidence such as photos and video footage.
HSE and local authority inspectors are finding some common issues across a range of sectors that 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.
To support businesses, HSE is providing advice and guidance to manage risk and protect workers. Where some employers are not managing the risk, HSE will take action which can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices and stopping certain work practices until they are made safe. Where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.
Phil Strickland, Principal Inspector of Construction for Greater Manchester, said: “All businesses are in scope for inspections that means any size business in any sector can receive an unannounced inspection to ensure they are COVID-secure. By making sure that businesses have measures in place to manage the risks, we can benefit the health of the local community as well as support the UK economy.”
For the latest information and Safer Workplaces guidance, see www.gov.uk