On the 22 September the UK government stated that there will be fines of up to £10,000 to individuals who refuse to self-isolate after they’ve been advised to. However these fines are now also applicable to businesses who don’t follow COVID rules.
The earlier guidance to encourage businesses to be more COVID-compliant has now become a legal obligation. Businesses that do not meet this legal requirement may be fined up to £10,000 or even closed down.
It is now more important than ever that businesses understand how to create a Covid-secure workplace. Our team of Health & Safety consultants have put this check-list together to get you ready for a Covid-secure inspection.
The most important thing of all - have you done a Covid-19 risk assessment? If you haven’t then here is a guide
Communication - have you engaged with all of your staff during the risk assessment? Are they aware of all the measures, controls and protocols you decided upon to minimise the risk of infection?
Have you introduced increased hygiene measures? Are you checking that they are being followed and adhered to? Could you prove this during a covid-secure inspection visit?
Is 2 metre social distancing in place, is it being adhered to?
Where two-metre distancing isn’t possible, have you got other precautions in place? For example mandatory face coverings, staggered start and finish times, a one-way system around the building, back to back working?
Are you checking regularly that all the things you decided were needed to reduce the risk of infection are being followed. Where mistakes occur - as they always do - are you correcting them? Are you recording these corrective actions and ensuring everybody is kept informed of any changes?
Have you considered whether people could work from home? The 22 September UK government announcement, requires all people who can work from home to do so, again.
Our Covid-19 workplace preparedness training course may be very useful with handy TIPS, hints and examples of how to make your workplace Covid-secure.
Local Authority Inspectors and HSE officers have compiled a list of the 4 most common things that cause a failure in a covid-secure inspection.
Cleaning and sanitisation procedures not being adhered to or insufficient to minimise the risk.
2. Social distancing not being observed. You must robustly enforce this as it is an essential control measure to reduce the risk of infection.
3. Poor communication to your people, so that when questioned they are not aware of the control measures you have introduced.
4. A strange one - but some people have been denying access to a Local Authority Inspector, an HSE Inspector or an Environmental Health Officer. By law you must give them access and it will go badly for you if you do deny them access.
How will the new rules of the 22 September announcement be enforced? The government has stated that local authorities will receive extra funding to increase police presence to enforce the new rules.
So it is almost certain that all businesses will receive a visit from an enforcing agency to check if the workplace is a covid-secure working environment. Failure to demonstrate that people are working safely could lead to a £10,000 fine or even closure of the business.
How do you demonstrate to an inspector that you are adhering to the rules and guidelines to minimise the risk of covid-19. It is quite simple really:
Record your risk assessment (this is law anyway if you have more than 5 employees - but good practice for any business).
Record any staff training sessions, ensure you have engaged with your staff on measures you are considering. Ask them their opinions and keep records of their comments.
Record any checks you do, such as making sure sanitising stations have sufficient sanitiser. Checks that social distancing is being observed. Inspectors will be looking for evidence that what you say you are doing, you are doing.