BOSSES were warned tonight they must make workplaces safe for their employees or they could be forced to send them home instead, or be fined.
Sarah Albon, chief executive for the Health and Safety Executive, said tonight that businesses could ultimately be prosecuted for not keeping their staff safe from coronavirus.
Sarah Albon warned that bosses could face criminal action if they did not keep employees safe from the virus
She told the Downing Street press conference tonight there were a range of actions HSE could dake
She told the Downing Street press conference this evening: “Inspectors can require businesses to do certain things – enforcement notices, requiring them to take particular kinds of action.
“In the most extreme circumstances if there is a risk of serious injury to an individual employee they can issue a notice which prohibits certain activities from taking place.
“Breach of those kind of enforcement notices is essentially a criminal offence and we can prosecute people who fail to do the right thing.”
She added that bosses will have to take into account their more vulnerable staff too when looking at how to operate safely.
Every work place has to fill out a health and safety risk assessment of coronavirus before they can get workers back in, the Government said yesterday.
The Health and Safety Executive will be overseeing the new guidance, and any employer who doesn’t obey could face fines or even have their employees sent home as the workplace would be deemed unsafe.
But ministers haven’t said whether people who feel unsafe will be forced to come in.
Yesterday the Government released a whole new raft of guidance for employers to make their workplaces safe.
And at the same time the PM said that anyone who could not work from home should have a chat with their boss about returning to work.
Employers must follow new “Covid-19 secure” steps to keep infections low.
- increasing the frequency of hand washing and cleaning
- keeping people at work for as short a time as possible
- using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
- using back-to-back or side-to-side working rather than face-to-face whenever possible
- reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ – so each person works with only a few others
- limiting meetings
The guidance said that employers have a legal responsibility to keep their workers safe – including minimising their risk of catching coronavirus.
Yesterday Boris Johnson said that employers would face on the spot checks from health and safety executives to make sure they were acting correctly.
The PM also told MPs that workers can report their companies if they don’t feel safe at work as the UK’s coronavirus lockdown eases.
He told the Commons: “We are going to insist that businesses are going to look after their workers.
“We will be having spot inspections to make sure businesses are keeping employees safe.”
The government’s coronavirus guidance for England tells employees firms should “discuss the workplace risk assessment with you to identify the practical ways of managing those risks”.
Local authorities and the HSE “can take a range of action, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps”, the government says.