The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), CBI and TUC have today issued a joint call for employers to ensure safe working conditions during the coronavirus outbreak.
The statement issued on Friday says that if companies remain open they must take practical steps to minimise the threat of workers being exposed to the virus wherever possible – including enabling social distancing.
It warns that if employers do not comply with the latest Public Health England guidance they face being hit with enforcement notices and potential closure.
The joint appeal also encourages workers to raise any concerns about working conditions first with their employer or trade union. And it notes that if concerns can’t be resolved locally, workers can approach HSE or their local authority for help.
CBI Deputy Director General Josh Hardie said: “The vast majority of firms are doing the very best they can in protecting their staff where premises remain open. The layout of some workplaces can make this incredibly difficult, but all efforts must be made to follow social distancing guidelines wherever they can.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We all want businesses to get through this crisis and keep people in their jobs. But this must not come at the cost of safe working conditions.
“Employers and unions have a crucial role to play in stopping the spread of the virus, protecting our NHS and saving lives."
She added: “No-one going into work should have to endanger their own health and put their families and the wider community at risk. Those companies who refuse to follow the rules must face the threat of closure.”
The British Safety Council backed the joint statement. Chair of trustees, Lawrence Waterman said: “There are clearly some employers who are putting safe working conditions at risk – this must end and the HSE is right to insist that it will take action if it has to.”
The full statement can be read on TUC's website here
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