Workplace spot checks to keep COVID at bay

Inspections to keep workers safe and the north Oxfordshire economy open are underway as more businesses reopen.

Published: Monday, 7th June 2021

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Cherwell District Council is continuing its partnership work with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to protect staff and make sure workplaces are COVID secure. Lockdown easing means that the opportunity for COVID to spread has increased, so it is critical that businesses maintain high standards.

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “In most cases these visits are about reinforcing consumer confidence and providing extra guidance to businesses who are already doing their best to keep COVID at bay.

“But any business could be in scope, whether they’ve been open throughout the pandemic, have recently reopened, or are about to reopen. With case numbers on the rise again, we are determined to keep the virus in check.”

Previous spot checks have found the majority of businesses are endeavouring to follow the government guidance and have taken a number of steps to control the risk from COVID-19.

However, HSE and council officers are finding some common issues across a range of sectors. These include: failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing; and failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime, particularly at busy times of the day.

Cllr McHugh added: “We know that spending more time in pubs, restaurants and other indoor venues will for many of us, take some getting used to. Most businesses we talk to understand that being able to demonstrate good hygiene, ventilation and social distancing will help them attract and retain customers.

“But to protect lives and livelihoods, keeping COVID-secure is just as important for businesses that operate away from the public eye, like factories and distribution centres.”

Relevant enforcement action can range from the provision of specific advice to issuing enforcement notices or stopping certain work practices until they are made safe. Where businesses fail to comply with legal requirements following advice, they could risk prosecution.

The COVID-secure measures businesses should have in place include:

  • Social distancing: where possible staff should keep two metres apart. If this is not viable, keeping one metre apart with risk mitigation is acceptable.
  • Cleaning, hygiene and handwashing: keeping the workplace clean reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread.
  • Ventilation and air conditioning can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Employers should follow the guidance on being COVID-secure. Further information on spot checks and inspections is available on the HSE website.

Anyone with concerns about COVID-secure measures in the workplace can contact the council at hpandcompliance@cherwell-dc.gov.uk or on 01295 227990.