Council and HSE crackdown on firms flouting covid rules

By Barrie Hudson - 22 January 2021

CommunityHealthBusiness

Swindon Borough Council is working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to contact 6,000 businesses and make sure they are covid-secure.

The council is responsible for enforcing health and safety checks at a number of premises across Swindon including shops, hairdressers, beauty salons, warehouses, distribution sites and supermarkets.

In order to support with the demands of the pandemic, the HSE will be working in partnership with the council to carry out regular unannounced spot checks on local businesses.

During these checks, officers will provide advice and guidance to businesses to help them manage the risk of coronavirus transmission in the workplace and ensure appropriate adjustments are in place to protect staff, customers and visitors.

Coun Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “Safety is our number one priority. 

"Our enforcement team will be working with HSE to talk to local businesses and inspect sites in and around Swindon to understand how businesses are managing risks during the pandemic.

“Being covid-secure needs to be the priority for all businesses in Swindon. It is a legal duty for businesses to protect their staff and customers from harm and to make the appropriate adjustments to prevent covid-19 transmission in the workplace.

“I encourage businesses to work with their employees when implementing any new changes, to help increase confidence in the measures that are being put in place.”

There will be three stages of checks to ensure businesses are covid-secure. 

Initially, the HSE will make contact with businesses to understand what measures they have in place to manage risks during the pandemic. If there are any concerns about a business, the business will be visited by health and safety practitioners who will be able to offer practical advice and guidance.

If a business is still found to be non-compliant after they have been visited by practitioners they will enter the final stage of checks and will be passed back to the council’s enforcement team to undertake any relevant enforcement action.

In the instance that a business is not managing the risk of transmission adequately, officers will take immediate action. 

This can include the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply, prosecution.

The HSE report finding some common issues across a number of businesses, such as 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.

Local businesses are being urged to cooperate with officers when they are contacted and to action any advice immediately in order to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in Swindon.

Further information on how to work safely during the pandemic can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

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