The Police are responsible for making sure the public comply with the corona virus management measures set out by the Government.  In the workplace, though, enforcement responsibilities sit with the Health and Safety Executive or the Local Authority, depending on your sector.  This is the same enforcement pattern as is in place for all health and safety law.

The Health and Safety Executive takes the lead on most aspects of health and safety at work strategy, and publishes guidance to support all workplaces.  However, enforcement for the “low risk” sectors sits with the relevant Local Authority, who work in accordance with guidelines agreed with HSE.

The sectors enforced by Local Authorities are:

  • Retail
  • Warehouses
  • Hotels
  • Catering premises
  • Offices
  • Consumer/Leisure industries 

The powers of the Local Authority inspectors are similar to those of HSE inspectors.

A visit from the Health and Safety enforcement body does not happen every day.  It is most likely to happen following a serious accident, or a complaint made about your operation.  It may happen as a routine occurrence.

Should you be visited by an enforcement officer, your priority must be to co-operate.  In law, the officer has a right to enter your premises and see whatever they wish.  If you are difficult with them, they are far more likely to take a punitive approach.

When assessing your COVID compliance, the first thing the officer will require is sight of your COVID 19 risk assessment for the operation.  My experience so far is that most companies have had a go at producing this, and the majority have made a good job of it.

A quick look round and some questions will furnish the officer with the answers to their further questions:

  • Hand washing and welfare
  • Effective management of distancing
  • Face coverings
  • Cleaning
  • Communication with workers
  • Vulnerable groups
  • Those with symptoms
  • Ventilation
  • Home working and peripatetic workers

Assuming your visitor can tick the boxes, the visit is likely to be brief.  If concerns arise, it will be much more intensive.