There are many articles on this subject out there and I have read so many over the past few weeks, my head is spinning. At the end of the day COVID19 is a reportable disease under RIDDOR. As a minimum this is a good time to review the health and safety law obligations and what you need to do to stay on the right side of criminal law to avoid prosecution.
There will be a number of things to consider as you make plans:
- How will social distancing be managed both in the office and working environments as well as work undertaken on client sites?
- As an employer will you be expected to provide PPE for your employees in the workplace and if temperature monitoring is required, due to the nature of your products or services, how will this be managed? ….Think data protection laws.
- Do you need to review terms and conditions of employment to incorporate a COVID19 clause?
- Will a review of your supply chain resilience be necessary?
- How will lessons learned in the past weeks inform your business continuity plan?
I want to share with you an article I found helpful in focusing on the underlying laws. Written for the SHP Safety & Health Practitioner by Dr Simon Joyston-Bechal, Director at Turnstone Law, he highlights the risks associated with not being sufficiently prepared. For more information on the specific legislation, refer to your HubProActive Legal Register.
As always the starting point is to comply with the obligations in sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – this states all reasonably practicable steps must be taken so as to ensure the health, safety and welfare of your workers and anyone else impacted by your operations. This includes keeping up to date with the work-related risks posed by COVID-19, as well as planning and implementing all reasonably practicable risk reduction measures.
In Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 there is a requirement to make “suitable and sufficient” risk assessments of the health and safety risks faced by your employees, as well as non-employees who are affected by your operations. Circumstances and knowledge about COVID-19 risks are changing fast, so you need to keep abreast of the latest developments and act accordingly.
There are also the criminal law requirements under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 to provide suitable PPE. The obligations include that PPE must be appropriate for the risks and conditions involved, capable of fitting correctly and must be assessed as suitable and effective, so far as is reasonably practicable, to prevent or adequately control the risk.
As rules are relaxed and the Government’s plan to kick start the economy gains momentum it will be necessary to revise, renew or create your relevant risk assessments dealing with COVID-19 to encompass returning to work. Your COVID-19 return to work plan(s) must identify the hazards and set out mitigation measures.
The risk of prosecution will grow, for example, if there is inadequate planning, if employees are pressured into returning to work, if social distancing is not arranged and enforced and if adequate PPE is not provided and replenished.
The full article can be viewed HERE
In the meantime if you need help to prepare your COVID19 risk management and resilience plan reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in touch with one of our Health and Safety Consultants who is focusing on this support.