Creating a COVID-secure environment has never been more important, and businesses are under pressure to make sure health and safety measures are up to scratch. Being COVID-compliant is now a legal obligation and if you fail to meet these legal standards, you could faces fines of up to £10,000 and even be forced to close your business’ doors1.
Common issues identified by COVID inspectors
Here’s some of the most common mistakes found by HSE and Local Authority Inspectors:
- Cleaning regimes in place that don’t address major risks – you may have a risk assessment, but if you’re not following through with the cleaning regime this will be picked up on in an inspection.
- Social distancing not being observed – this can be one of the most difficult issues to address.
- Ignoring the regulator – if a Local Authority Inspector, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Inspector or an Environmental Health Officer arrives to insect the premises, you must give them access.
- Not engaging with your people to make sure they’re aware of controls – education and compliance is hugely important.
Encouraging COVID compliance in your business
A big part of making sure your workplace is complying with the right measure is all down to behaviours across the whole workforce. But this can sometimes be difficult. The key is to start with the right foundations. Consider:
- Policies – hygiene, social distancing and movement around the workplace – all of these changes should be put in writing and accessible to all so there’s no misunderstanding among your workforce.
- Communication – it’s vital to make sure employees feel confident. Consulting with your employees is even better as it gives everyone a sense of ownership in the process and makes people more motivated to comply.
- Training – training is critical. When you’re focused on doing your job, it’s easy to lapse into old behaviours. Training your employees and managers in how to stay alert and comply with the measures, will help create a more consistent approach all round.
A compliance check once a day, or once a week, shows you’re actively enforcing these measures and can confidently pass a COVID-inspection. Be sure to record these compliance checks so you have an audit trail for when an inspector visits your premises.
When formal action needs to be taken…
If non-compliance with COIVD-secure measures becomes a consistent problem, a breach of health and safety obligations is grounds for gross misconduct. However, it’s always best to seek advice on issues like this to understand your rights and duties as an employer.
Potential COVID-19 health and safety claims
It’s not just the HSE or their representatives who are keeping an eye out on how well you’re maintaining COVID-security in your workplace – your employees will be too. There’s lots of potential claims they could bring against the business if they feel you’re not doing what you should be to protect the workplace.
Failing to enforce compliance could give rise to a claim because it’s a breach of your duty to look after your employees’ health and safety. The Employment Tribunal Service has said that they will prioritise COVID claims amid their backlog. Every employer should make sure they have crossed every t and dotted every i when it comes to COVID-compliance.
While the measures outlined in this article only scratch the surface of what you need to keep on top of as an employer in the age of COVID-19, you don’t have to do all of it on your own. If you would like to discuss any of the topics in this article, our Risk Management team are here to help.
The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable and should be understood to be general insurance and risk management information only. The information is not intended to be taken as advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Statements concerning legal, tax or accounting matters should be understood to be general observations based solely on our experience as insurance brokers and risk consultants and should not be relied upon as legal, tax or accounting advice, which we are not authorised to provide.