Hazards Campaign Statement – 6 April 2020
Deadly failures have placed millions of workers at unnecessary coronavirus exposure risk
The National Hazards Campaign believes that the government, HSE and public health organisation across the four nations should be striving to ensure no more workers die of work-related Covid-19.
To control the spread of this virus and protect workers from contracting Covid-19, we need the Government to make rational, science based decisions and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to enforce safety in all workplaces, and stop all non-essential work, if it can’t be done at home. This can be achieved by:
- A precautionary approach to this new Covid-19 virus risk, that provides workers with the best chance to avoid becoming infected by it. Employers need to eliminate the risk of catching or spreading Covid-19 at work by following health and safety risk-based control measures:
a) Closure of all non-essential work that is not supporting essential workers, with workers laid off with full pay so they can stay home and keep safe
b) Preventing exposure in essential work/supporting essential work by:
- Enforcing social/physical distancing
- Provision of physical barriers and safe systems of work
- Provision of the highest most protective level of PPE (including training, cleaning and maintenance) for all workers who have to work within the 2 metre zone with people/patients as everyone may be potentially infected. In particular:
> For Essential Workers (for example care workers, cleaners, prison officers etc.) this must include disposable gloves, aprons, masks, goggles or face visors
>For NHS medical staff treating known Covid-19 patients this means the highest WHO standards of respiratory, goggles or visors, disposal suits, gloves etc
c) Government (HSE and public health organisations) must immediately issue new PPE guidance for all workers as latest updates only meet minimum standards not the highest required to fully protect essential workers.
- To attack the spread of the virus using tried and tested public health methods to test and track, then quarantine.
- A health care system alongside a strategy that protects our most vulnerable, not one that leaves health workers having to choose who has the best chance of survival.
- The HSE to step up and enforce the duty on employers to ensure workers health and safety. All workers, need reassurance and access to information and support in the workplace, without artificial communication barriers. The HSE to investigate quickly and close down employers who are putting peoples lives at risk. HSE must engage with workers via new technology and social media too ensure they get real-time information about hazards and risk on site and can respond rapidly.
A fatal combination of missed opportunities, ignored warning signs and a failure to stop non-essential work have made the Covid-19 a bigger and more deadly epidemic in the UK, a new analysis by Prof. A Watterson has revealed. Additionally, there is a failure by the HSE to enforce Health and Safety Law and ensure workers are protected from all the risks in the workplace. This must change!