I was saddened to read of the death of Scott Hunter recently as a result of COVID but was disappointed to read about the failures of his employers to take steps to protect their employees from contracting COVID. It was particularly disappointing to read that concerns about the lack of protection had been raised as far back as August last year.
While much of the country remains working at home, for those employees who cannot do their job from home, they should feel that their employers are taking steps to keep them safe while carrying out their jobs and minimise the risk of contracting COVID. And legally, employers have a responsibility to do so.
The Health and Safety Executive Report (HSE) highlighted a significant number of failings on the part of the local authority including failing to report the confirmed cases so that close contacts could be traced, failing to deep clean shared spaces following the positive tests. The report also highlights the need for employers to effectively communicate procedures to employees.
We are now almost a year into this pandemic. While I would hope that employers are taking the right precautions to protect their employees and help minimise the spread of the virus, this report demonstrates that there are still employers who need to review and revise their procedures.
Simple steps that employers can take include but aren’t limited to :-
- Provision of hand gel and dispensers for employees and the public entering the premises;
- Proper cleaning procedures to ensure frequently touched services are cleaned at least twice per day;
- Deep clean and disinfection of facilities following a positive case of COVID;
- Guidance, training and instruction for employees on precautions to be taken;
- One way systems to help maintain social distancing;
- Provision of cleaning materials to clean shared spaces between use.
There are of course further changes that may require to be made to work spaces such as introducing screens to separate employees from the public or a strict appointment only system to minimise contact. Ultimately, employee safety should be a priority for all employers to keep their employees safe and to do their part to help contain the spread of the virus.
I hope that following the report the local authority in this case take the required steps to protect their employees. It is also important that all employers keep their procedures under review and that if staff do raise concerns, these are fully considered and changes implemented if required. No one wants to go to work and feel that their employer is not taking their health and safety seriously.
Caroline Kelly is a Partner and Solicitor Advocate in our specialist Personal Injury team. To find out if you have a compensation claim, contact Caroline on 01382 346282 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, contact any of our specialist personal injury team on 0800 731 8434