The Secretary of State and I have had regular meetings with senior officials from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in order to assess in what ways the Department can support HSE on the work it is doing to support the Government during the COVID-19 outbreak. Since the COVID–19 outbreak started the Department has received a weekly written update on the work HSE is doing, this includes:
- maintaining its wide ranging regulatory functions, in particular continuing to investigate work related fatalities and the most serious major injuries, dealing with reported concerns and regulating major hazard industries. Undertaking regulatory activities that do not require site visits such as approvals and permissioning work. Whilst some of HSE’s regulatory intervention work can be done remotely, where it is necessary to provide public assurance that hazards are being effectively managed and to secure compliance with the law, site visits are being made;
- working with Public Health England (PHE), other Government departments and Devolved Administrations to ensure the country is geared up to treat people in Great Britain diagnosed with the COVID-19. HSE continues to offer information and advice on workplace and workforce issues to support the government’s response, including technical advice on personal protection equipment to ensure that healthcare workers and others are adequately protected;
- working closely with stakeholder groups including trade unions to develop practical guidance to support businesses to continue to operate and, where currently closed, to return to operation whilst ensuring the safety of workers; and
- where it comes to HSE’s attention that employers are found not to be complying with PHE’s guidelines taking appropriate action, ranging from specific advice through to serving enforcement notices, so as to ensure that practicable measures are implemented to protect workers and others.