Summary of advice
Employers need to determine what steps are required to create a safe working environment, taking all reasonably practical measures. Regulators recommend a risk assessment approach when considering the potential hazards and required controls. In addition to fulfilling legal obligations, this will allow organisations to record the basis of their decisions to assist with any future personal injury actions taken by employees or third parties.
If organisations have sought advice from various Government bodies, including Public Health England, HSE, their local authorities or the relevant trade bodies and are still unable to provide a safe working environment, then the employer should consider that it may need to continue to work remotely / remain closed and not allow people back into the workplace, until it is safe to do so.
Employers that can introduce suitable and sufficient controls to allow employees and customers back into the workplace need to ensure that these controls are being used continuously and remain in place for them to be effective. As advice to businesses is changing rapidly, controls must be reviewed regularly to ensure they remain current.
Organisations should also remember employees have continuing legal responsibilities to their employer and each other to follow instructions regarding safe working practices. Everyone should approach the health, safety and wellbeing of each other in the workplace with compassion and understanding. Organisations should have regular and continuing engagement with their employees and/or their recognised representatives (trade union or otherwise), including their health and safety committee, where this exists, and about COVID-19 and any associated arrangements in the workplace. These engagements will provide opportunities to remind everyone about safe working practices, necessary precautions and to raise and share concerns.
To ensure arrangements are suitable and sufficient to discharge the organisation’s duty of care, external validation is helpful. This can also help directors and officers demonstrate they took the requisite practical steps necessary to fulfil their personal duties. Gallagher offers external validation services and can review current and proposed measures. Please contact your usual Gallagher representative.