COVID 19 Secure – Do not reopen without coronavirus safety measures
Employers who are unable to introduce adequate measures to protect staff from coronavirus should not reopen their workplaces said HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon.
On the 12 May, Ms. Albon told Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee that employers who are unable to implement social distancing and hygiene measures should “not open”.
The HSE’s chief executive confirmed that between 9 March and 7 May, the HSE had received more 7,149 coronavirus-related calls and online queries from people concerned about their safety at work. While many of those concerns were dealt with immediately, about 1,400 were referred to inspectors for further investigation. Inspectors spoke to 321 employers, who were required to show what safety measures they had put in place. 27 employers were written to, with orders for improvements to be made. HSE inspectors were yet to close any businesses as a result of those concerns, she added.
Ms. Albon is expecting a further surge in calls as people begin to return to work, with the HSE increasing its call centre staff and extending its opening hours from 5 pm to 10 pm to cope with demand.
The committee heard that the HSE has received 3,000 reports of coronavirus-related occupational diseases, 200 reports of dangerous occurrences, and 71 worker deaths through the RIDDOR reporting system. On being asked why the figure for reported worker deaths was “so low”, Ms Albon said: “We think it is at least likely we have had some significant under-reporting, and that is particularly under NHS settings where we have had very, very low numbers so far reported to us.”
If you are an employer who has concerns about the way your staff work and need help with drafting a COVID-19 Secure risk assessment; or want a better understanding of RIDDOR reporting, then do get in touch.