The HSE Executive has been placed under increasing pressure by Labour ministers who have asked for an urgent review into why there have been no workplace closures despite over 3,500 covid outbreaks at work.
The pressure from the opposition in regards to the Government watch-dog on health and safety comes after cabinet ministers defended the decision of the HSE to not place Covid in the highest risk category following a parliamentary question from the Labour shadow employment minister Andy Mcdonald.
A review of the HSE Executive’s enforcement database uncovered that no Covid-related prohibition notices had been issued. These allow inspectors to call for the immediate halt in activities within a workplace they deem to be unsafe from a Covid perspective.
The classification of Covid as significant as opposed to serious was questioned further by Andy Mcdonald. The Labour shadow employment minister felt the classification was being used by employers who could be exposing their employees to unnecessary risks in the workplace.
“Inspectors are responding to Covid with one hand tied behind their back”: Andy Mcdonald
A spokesperson from the HSE has discredited the idea that the organisation is not taking the pandemic seriously. The large number of spot inspections could be touted as a show of effort from the Health and Safety Executive but the lack of action in terms of closures could put the body under increasing pressures as we continue working with Covid as part of daily life.
The Health and Safety Executive had previously defended its actions around Covid and the enforcement of control measures at work insisting it was working with employers to ensure that workers were being kept safe.
The 32,000 site inspections carried out by the governing body has shown a willingness to monitor workplaces that may not be secure against the virus. The inspections have been largely carried out in 2020.
If you want to find out more about how the pandemic has impacted health and safety the HSE Network Covid resources page provides you with some of the most up to date information available. Alongside regular news updates, we also provide articles covering topics including home working, Covid compliance and general thought-leading content.