Industrial Health and Safety: Coronavirus

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 21st July 2021.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Disabilities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department is taking to ensure that employers (a) follow the latest covid-19 guidelines for workplaces and (b) ensure that workplaces are safe for extremely clinically vulnerable employees.

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Disabilities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what guidance her Department provides to employers to make them aware of their legal requirements to protect employees who are extremely clinically vulnerable.

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

Throughout the pandemic, HSE has encouraged businesses to manage risks in order to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in workplaces; including through the provision of detailed guidance (https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm). This includes guidance on the importance of cleaning, hygiene and handwashing, providing adequate ventilation and social distancing (to note, measures on social distancing are subject to imminent change due to the easing of restrictions across the UK).

HSE and Local Authorities use a range of interventions to influence, encourage and advise business and, where necessary, hold to account those who fail to meet their responsibilities. Throughout the pandemic, HSE has engaged with businesses through the three stage Spot Check process which includes phone calls and, where face to face contact is necessary, site visits. Determining whether businesses have implemented the controls identified by this risk assessment is a central part of the process.

Employers’ health and safety responsibilities include taking reasonable steps to protect all workers and others from the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in connection with their work activities. As these control measures apply to all workers, regardless of their relative levels of vulnerability or the potential outcome, there are no expectations of additional control measures for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) workers or the need for individual risk assessments.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises employers to have individual discussions with their CEV employees about any workplace concerns and understand what is in place to protect them. There is specific guidance on the HSE website to support employers to do this https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/protect-people.htm

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