HSE will shut down sites not following coronavirus guidance
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned employers that it will issue enforcement notices to companies not complying with Public Health England's guidance to limit the spread of coronavirus.
HSE said it would consider 'a range of actions' from providing specific advice to prohibition notices if employers – including construction firms – did not stick to PHE guidance on measures such as social distancing where it is practical to enforce it.
The HSE's warning came in a joint statement with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to call on employers to provide workers with information about risks to their health and the actions their employers must take.
The HSE said: "Social distancing is a key public health measure introduced by Public Health England (PHE) to reduce the spread of infection. Most employers are going to great lengths to ensure social distancing wherever possible. The HSE, CBI and TUC wish to publicly support these efforts. Firms that can safely stay open and support livelihoods should not be forced to close by misunderstandings about government guidance.
"But if it comes to the HSE's attention that employers are not complying with the relevant PHE guidance (including enabling social distancing where it is practical to do so), HSE will consider a range of actions ranging from providing specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices, including prohibition notices."
CBI deputy director general Josh Hardie said: "Businesses are stepping up to the mark in these incredibly challenging times.
"Keeping staff safe must be their number one priority, as they also keep the wheels of daily life and the economy spinning.
"The vast majority of firms are doing the very best they can in protecting their staff where premises remain open. The layout of some workplaces can make this incredibly difficult, but all efforts must be made to follow social distancing guidelines wherever they can."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady added: "We all want businesses to get through this crisis and keep people in their jobs. But this must not come at the cost of safe working conditions.
"Employers and unions have a crucial role to play in stopping the spread of the virus, protecting our NHS and saving lives.
"Many employers are doing the right thing. But no-one going into work should have to endanger their own health and put their families and the wider community at risk. These companies who refuse to follow the rules must face the threat of closure."
Article source: Construction Manager