HSE carrying out COVID spot checks – logistics sector
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced it is proactively checking whether transport and logistics businesses are COVID-19 secure.
In the build up to the festive period, HSE inspectors are working with local authorities to ensure the transport and logistics industry is effectively managing the risk of coronavirus. The HSE was given and additional £14 Million Pounds in July of this year to employ additional inspectors. During September & October Schools and Further Education premises were inspected for Covid Security. The next round of inspections in the transport and logistics sector started in November and ends this December. To date the HSE has not announced what sector they will be inspecting in January & February 2021, we hope to be able to let you know in early December.
Lockdowns and firebreak and tier restrictions have resulted in a big increase in online shopping. The surge in online spending is expected to increase over the next few weeks in the run up to Christmas. This will of course increase the activity of the supply chain businesses to online shopping.
HSE inspectors and local authority officers are therefore visiting warehouses and distribution centres across the country to make sure workplaces are COVID-secure and that relevant guidance is being followed.
COVID-secure businesses will have necessary workplace controls in place, such as social distancing, staggering breaks and cleaning arrangements, to manage the risk of infection and protect workers and others from coronavirus. The ongoing spot checks are to ensure businesses have suitable toilet and hand washing facilities for all workers, including visiting drivers. If necessary, other health and safety matters will also be checked.
Information from the visits is to be shared to promote good practice and help the industry meet the combined challenge of COVID and the seasonal surge in demand.
Harvey Wild, Head of the HSE’s Transport and Public Services Unit, says: “The logistics and distribution industry overall has seen a significant increase in business activity over the past few months and, with shops and retail centres closed, there will be a surge in online shopping in the run up to the festive period. As a result of this, we will see an increase in the number of agency and temporary workers in the transport and logistics sector to meet the demand. It’s important that all workers and also customers feel confident that measures are being taken to protect them from COVID-19”.
Mr Wild stresses: “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 consult with their workers on the changes they put in place to become COVID-secure. This is to provide reassurance for workers and to also increase confidence in customers and the local community.”
He adds: “Becoming COVID-secure not only benefits the health of our communities and vital businesses, it is also good for the health of the UK economy.”
The HSE warns that action will be taken if employers are found to be not managing the risk. Action can range from providing specific advice to issuing enforcement notices and stopping certain work practices until they are made safe. A business failing to comply can lead to prosecution and criminal conviction.
For more information on ensuring drivers’ welfare at delivery and collection sites during the coronavirus pandemic, visit the HSE website.