I read an interesting article in the Safety & Health Practitioner (SHP) magazine this month. The question being asked was ‘COVID-19: Can employers be prosecuted if employees are exposed?’
In the UK, all employers have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of employees; such duties extending to the provision of a safe working environment to those affected, and not to expose third parties to risk.
However, as stated in the SHP ‘The reality of these unprecedented times is, however, that enforcement of such legislation in this context is a very unlikely outcome’. Conversely, best practice and taking responsibility in the workplace should ensure:
- Measures are taken to prevent contaminants from spreading.
- Risk assessments should consider mitigation measures such as hand gel, remote working and reducing or eliminating all non-essential travel.
As it stands COVID-19 cases are not reportable under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences).
People often say to me when delivering courses that ‘Health & Safety is common sense’ and I always reply with ‘If I could teach common sense, I would be a multi-millionaire!’
So, the message is simply, act responsibly and morally and not out of fear of prosecution, but out of an appropriate sense of accountability to staff, customers and your stakeholders.
Stay up to date with what’s happening with this worldwide problem and do all that is reasonably practicable, based on government advice in this ever-changing dynamic arena we all face at this time.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding; updating your risk assessments, identifying high risk employees, implementing additional health or safety checks, cleaning or issuing further guidance to your staff, please just get in touch. We’re here to offer our assistance to anyone, at any time to support our friends, clients and UK citizens alike with free remote assistance and advice in business on request.
Stay safe and well everyone – keep washing those hands.