Employment: Coronavirus

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 26th February 2021.

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Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 8 February 2021 to Question 147867, on Employment: Coronavirus, whether the Health and Safety Executive plans to re-categorise covid-19 in the workplace as serious.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The answer to question 147867 outlined how the category label “serious” is used in the context of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Enforcement Management Model (EMM). There are currently no plans to change guidance to inspectors about how they use any category in the model. HSE continues to keep the evidence under review and will make changes if the evidence requires.

HSE takes Covid-19 safety at work very seriously and it is playing a critical role in the national response to the pandemic. The Government has provided additional funding of £14 million to HSE to strengthen its capacity to tackle Covid-19.

Since the start of the pandemic HSE has carried over 127,000 Coivd-19 spot checks and responded to over 19,000 concerns. Over 700 checks a day are currently taking place. Spot checks have been targeted in those industries where workers are most likely to be vulnerable to transmission risks.

HSE’s evidence is that more than 90% of the businesses checked have the right precautions in place or are willing to make necessary changes promptly and without the need for enforcement notices. HSE will continue to take enforcement action where appropriate, but the best use of its time and resource to ensure employers take the right action promptly is often to educate, persuade or require matters to be put right immediately.

HSE has to date issued two prohibition notices for breaches of workplace COVID-secure standards, both in the oil and gas industry (part of the extractive utilities sector).

A further 223 COVID-19 related interventions have resulted in improvement notices, 1,512 in written correspondence and 6790 in verbal advice.

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