2021-10-23 13:51

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Health And Safety Duties In Management Of Covid In The Workplace

How the HSE blindly follows Government Covid guidance

The HSE is the regulatory authority responsible for ensuring employers are acting responsibly and in the event they are not doing so, to prosecute employer's whose neglect of their legal responsibilities puts the safety and welfare of their employees at risk.

However their precautionary and preventative approach to employer's workplaces, which requires visits to workplaces, investigate complaints from workers or the local community who may be at risk of harm as a result of the employer's activities and workplace procedures, machinery, equipment and materials; has all but gone as a result of lack of resources and Government dictate.

The HSE has been under resourced for years ever since the 1974 Act and establishment of the HSE as an enforcing authority. But more recently and since 2010 under Tory Governments, their remit has been changed and they are moore like a commercial organisation than one of enforcement.

The following are some of the key legislative health and safety requirements relating to the management of Coronavirus at the workplace. These are statutory duties, legally enforceable, carrying criminal charges if neglected.

Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974

Section 2: Duty to look after health, safety and welfare of employees

Section 3: Duty to consider health and safety of those not employed

Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977

Section 2: Duty to consult safety representatives

Regulation 4, right of reps to:

Represent employees in consultations with employer

Make representations to employer Investigate hazards and dangerous occurrences

Conduct investigations and inspections

Personal Protective Equipment Regulations, 1992

Regulation 4: Duty to provide suitable equipment

Regulation 7: Duty to maintain PPE in working order

Management of H&S at Work Regulations, 1999

Regulation 3: Duty to undertake sufficient assessment of risks

Regulation 5: Duty to plan, organise, control, monitor and review preventive and protective measures

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, 2002

Regulation 2: Duty to provide PPE where control of exposure cannot be achieved

Regulation 7: Duty to prevent or adequately control exposure – including pandemic flu (HSE)

Regulation 7: Duty to minimise numbers exposed and level and duration of exposure.

Regulation 7: Duty to provide appropriate hygiene measures including adequate washing facilities.

The duty of the HSE is to help ensure that employers are ensurig their workplaces are safe for the employees and to provide appropriate and authoritative advice to employers, and if need be inspect workplaces of concern and follow-up complaints received from workers; with the ultimate authority to prosecute employers for failing to comply.

Covid-19 is a pandemic and rife in the UK, having cost an estimated over 180,000 lives. Following lockdowns and workers having to work from home, they are now back in their workplaces with vastly varying precautions set up by employers to safeguard workers and mitigate risks of air contamination, increased CO2 levels, and transmission of the virus between employees.

Image: IER article on HSE Covid-19 failingsHowever, the HSE is choosing to align itself with government Covid-19 guidance, irrespective of some of their guidance being questionable in terms of the law.

The Institute of Employment Rights have issued a publication entitled:
'HSE and Covid at work: A case of regulatory failure' which goes into detail regarding the lack of HSE regulatory leadership on action to protect workplaces and the workforce from Covid-19 infection.

There is also an article on the IER website by Phil James Professor of Employment Relations, Middlesex University entitled Coronavirus at work: Where is the regulatory leadership? Click on image above left to read the article.

The publication illustrated by the image above to the right can be bought for between £3 and £8 direct from the IER website by clicking on the image.

Source: IER

Pic: Bak to News icon link

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