Updated Jul 20, 2020

HSE spot checks for COVID compliance

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is currently carrying out spot inspections on businesses in Bradford checking they are working right and are COVID-secure.

The checks are to make sure businesses are aware of the Safer Workplace guidance and advising where necessary on improvements needed. They are being carried out by a mixture of phone checks and site visits, with the phone checks also obtaining visual evidence such as photos and video footage.

Some of the most common issues that HSE inspectors are finding include failing to:

  • provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing;
  • introduce an adequate cleaning regime, particularly at busy times of the day; and
  • provide access to welfare facilities to allow employees to frequently wash their hands.

Where it is found that employers are not managing the risk, the HSE will take action which can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply, possible prosecution.

Michael Bone, HSE Head of Operations in Yorkshire said: "Given the number of cases in Bradford, becoming COVID-secure should be the priority for all businesses. We are talking to duty holders and inspecting sites across the city to understand how they are managing risks in line with their specific business activity.

"Employers have a legal duty to protect workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk and protect people from coronavirus. We encourage businesses to engage their employees in the changes they put in place to become COVID-secure to increase confidence with workers and in turn customers and the local community."

Extra resources

In recent years, funding cuts have been blamed for a reduction in HSE inspections. However, in May this year, the Government made an additional £14m available for the HSE to respond to the increased number of concerns from workers.

According to IOSH magazine, between 9 March and 29 June, the HSE received 23,569 COVID-related contacts, of which 7784 were COVID-related concerns, 9944 were COVID-related calls and 5871 were COVID-related advice requests.

Of the 3856 businesses contacted between 26 May and 2 July, 2386 spot checks were carried out by a mixture of phone checks and site visits. 

Out of nearly 4000 spot checks, 295 were follow ups to check on issues with cleaning regimes, social distancing as well as failure to engage with the regulator. All but 41 of these were deemed compliant after the second check. The remaining 41 are currently subject to inspector visits and further investigation.

What you need to do to be COVID-secure

To be COVID-secure means you need to put in place workplace adjustments, keep up-to-date with the latest guidance and put measures in place to manage the risk and protect workers and others.

There are practical steps that you can take to do that:

  • Step 1: carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment;
  • Step 2: develop increased cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures;
  • Step 3: maintain 2m social distancing where possible;
  • Step 4: where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk.

General information on COVID- 19

Cedrec has created a detailed In Focus which sets out relevant advice about working safely during the pandemic across several sectors as well as being a central access point for many relevant guidance documents. This will be particularly useful for those responsible for managing health and safety on various sites around the UK. It is updated regularly so we recommend it is checked as often as possible in order to remain up-to-date on current advice.

The page can be accessed using the following link: