HSE will ‘shut sites and issue fines for COVID-19 rule breaches’
Employers that do not enforce social distancing measures could have works suspended and face fines, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned.
The safety body, in a joint statement with the Trades Union Congress and Confederation of British Industry, said if it became aware of an employer not enforcing social distancing and similar measures, it would act. Consequences range from advice to an enforcement notice – a fine for breaching regulations or a prohibition notice – that shuts down some or all activity on site.
The watchdog also encouraged workers to contact the HSE or their local authority with any coronavirus-related site-safety concerns. It said employees should get in touch if they could not resolve issues with their firm or via their trade union. The HSE announced last week that it had suspended routine inspections amid coronavirus safety fears.
The statement said: “Most employers are going to great lengths to ensure social distancing wherever possible […] Firms that can safely stay open and support livelihoods should not be forced to close by misunderstandings about government guidance.”
Guidance from Public Health England for continuing work during COVID-19 stipulates social distancing of at least two metres between workers.