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HSE is treating COVID-19 as a workplace health issue

DC
BY Douglas Cameron
Health & Safety

We read some interesting statistics today from HSE relating to contacts they have received relating to COVID-19 between 9th March and 29th June, a total of 23,569. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 7,784 COVID-related concerns
  • 9,944 COVID-general calls
  • 5,871 COVID-advice contacts

Between end May and beginning of July, 2,386 phone checks (including receipt of pictures/videos) have been requested by HSE with some site visits.

Our View

Certainly an increase from an earlier figure of circa 5,000 we read a few months ago. We wish we could see some similar statistics from Local Authority enforcement and be able to gauge the real level of concern from the UK workforce. Seems employee knowledge relating to safety has increased as a result of this pandemic and their own personal safety.

Will enforcement cope? We are aware HSE are actively trying to attract ex-inspectors back on 9 month secondment, suggesting they currently do not have the manpower. Local authorities have been working with reduced numbers of EHOs for years.

Governments Guidance has however made clear:

“HSE is treating COVID-19 as a workplace health issue with regard to the protection of workers from infection. HSE can, and will, use the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure social distancing in the workplace in relation to workers.”

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