The TUC has called on government to take further steps to protect workers who are still going into work. Unions are concerned that many workers who can’t work from home are being exposed to unnecessary Covid-19 risk because their employers are not putting adequate safety measures in place.
The safety measures the TUC is calling for employers to adopt include:
• supporting staff to get to work by the safest means possible (e.g. waiving car parking charges to reduce workers’ need for public transport or allowing staff to travel at less busy times)
• changing workers patterns to allow greater social distancing (e.g. introducing split shifts and staggering start and finish times)
• agree risk assessments with union health and safety reps
• providing appropriate personal protective equipment, and washing and changing facilities.
Many employers are already proactively taking a position based on risk assessment with similar controls as the TUC is suggesting. There is already plenty of guidance and legislation in place to achieve what is being proposed. The HSE is the enforcing authority who have stated that ‘If it comes to the HSE’s attention that employers are not complying with the relevant Public Health England guidance (including enabling social distancing where it is practical to do so), HSE will consider a range of actions ranging from providing specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices, including prohibition notices.’
Where a worker has a genuine concern about health and safety which cannot be resolved through speaking with their employer or trade union, they should contact the relevant enforcement agency – either their local authority, or the HSE through https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm
For firms who are unsure about the guidance, you can visit https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/social-distancing-coronavirus.htm