What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Inspections

Since the Government began urging people back to work the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been working with businesses, local councils and local public health authorities to ensure businesses are COVID-secure. One of the main ways the HSE have been ensuring businesses are COVID-secure is by carrying out random inspections.

Ensuring your business meets the HSE requirements of being COVID-secure means adapting your workplace to comply with current guidance and implementing safeguards to mitigate the risks of coronavirus to protect your workers and others.

In recent announcements the HSE stated all businesses can take the following practical steps to control the risks of coronavirus in the workplace:

  • Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
  • Develop increased cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures
  • Maintain 2m social distancing where possible
  • Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk

Waste Management concerns

Although the above key measures seem at first glance relatively easy to implement, some businesses in waste management may struggle to adapt to some of the measures specifically, such as wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces & maintaining distance of at least 1 metre+.

Adapting to these measures can also be quite expensive, especially given the measures are subject to further changes which businesses must be alert to and respond quickly to in order to achieve compliance.

Preparing for COVID-19 inpsection

Most inspections thus far have been conducted by way of ‘spot checks’, with the HSE calling businesses and/or visiting sites to ensure compliance. Inspectors may also request visual evidence and video footage prior to attending the site.

Given the possible requests that can be made of businesses, it is crucial your business is adhering to COVID-secure guidance and has effective risk management in place, especially given the above ‘spot checks’ are random so you will not get much notice of an inspection.

Some of the common issues arising from inspections include:

  • Failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing
  • Failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime – especially at busy times of the day
  • Failing providing access to welfare facilities to allow employees to frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap

Actions the HSE may take following an inspection

The HSE have stated if they conclude from an inspection that a business is failing to manage risk and protect workers and visitors, they will take immediate action. This can range from giving specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping specific work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply, this could result in prosecution.