During the current lockdown, many businesses are unable to open except for those classed as providing essential goods and services. Many businesses in the transport and logistics industry fall into this category – hauliers, removal companies, couriers and delivery companies etc. But in order to operate, businesses must follow COVID secure workplace guidelines.
What are COVID secure workplace guidelines, how are the transport and logistics industry implementing these and why is it vital that all businesses follow the guidance?
What is a COVID secure workplace?
The government have set out a range of guidelines which identify the actions which businesses must take to make their workplace a safe place during the ongoing pandemic.
Exactly what makes a workplace COVID secure will vary depending on the type of business which you run.
There are 14 guides covering different types of work which include sector specific guidance. When looking to make your workplace COVID secure follow the guidance laid out in the guide which best reflects the type of business that you run. You may need to refer to more than one guide.
Each guide includes a list of priority actions that businesses should take to make their workplace COVID secure.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website also provides guidance for employers when it comes to making workplaces COVID secure.
How have the transport and logistics industry implemented COVID secure guidelines?
An HSE bulletin released in January highlighted that the HSE had been working with local authorities since December to carry out spot inspections on businesses in the transport and logistics sector. These spot inspections have been carried out to ensure COVID secure workplace guidance is continuing to be adhered to.
The outcome of the COVID secure workplace inspections showed positive engagement with the rules in the transport and logistics sector
- Most sites visited had COVID secure workplace measures in place
- Good practice was found to be being demonstrated on many visits. This included things such as providing access to toilets, handwashing facilities and rest areas. As well as ensuring good practice for visiting drivers and their ability to safely access facilities
Other good practice which was picked up included
- Provision of COVID kits – including items such as wipes and hand sanitiser
- Ensuring social distance was possible in all environments including rest and break areas
- Staggered working hours to prevent congestion
- Active monitoring to ensure COVID secure workplace processes and procedures were being adhered to by staff
We have also heard anecdotally of removal companies putting in strong COVID secure workplace practices. Requiring homes to be empty for 72 hours before removal men enter to work in the property, thorough cleaning and limiting the number of people who work in a property at one time.
Why is it so important for businesses to follow COVID secure guidelines?
Meeting your duty of care to your employees and adhering to health and safety guidance has never been as important to businesses as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is a clear risk to staff of not managing your workplace correctly at this time.
Some of the COVID secure workplace guidance are legal requirements. Not following them can see businesses face large fines.
For example, ‘It is a legal requirement for employers to not knowingly allow an employee who has been told to self-isolate to come into work or work anywhere other than their own home for the duration of their self-isolation period. Failure to do so could result in a fine starting from £1,000.’
But there is also the possibility that employers may start to face personal injury claims relating to COVID-19 from employees. This is something that we blogged about last month, setting out why we believe that there could be a surge of issues arising where employers could face claims directly linked to COVID 19. That they did not take all practicable steps to reduce infection risk such that an employee then contracted the COVID-19 virus.
Not complying with your duty to care for the health and safety of your employees or not fully complying with government COVID secure workplace guidance could see you face a potential claim for personal injury and loss.
In addition to complying with your health and safety duty of care, as an employer steps you can take at this time include:
- being aware of the latest COVID secure workplace guidance and any updates made
- implementing the guidance following a thorough risk assessment
- having health and safety as a standing item on the agenda of management meetings
- keeping a record of how you have complied with the COVID secure guidance
It is great to see that the transport and logistics industry have positively engaged with COVID secure workplace guidance, reducing risks to both their employees and customers. Risk management forms an integral part of the running of any business, and it is rightly a strong focus at the moment when the risks of inadequate workplace management are clear. At Anthony Jones we work with our transport and logistics insurance customers on their wider risk management strategy. You can get in touch with us on 020 8290 9099 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.