Are you ready if the HSE carries out a COVID spot check on your business?

Tuesday December 1, 2020

You may have heard that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is conducting spot checks on UK businesses to ensure that they are COVID-safe. The inspections are taking place across the UK and will cover businesses in all sectors. The HSE will also assist local authorities in inspecting retail and hospitality premises.

The inspections are not designed to catch you out. Instead, they are a way for HSE to offer expert advice on minimising risk and keeping employees and customers safe. HSE inspectors will perform COVID safety checks as part of their routine visits to workplaces. In order to reach as many businesses as possible, HSE is also outsourcing some of the inspections to approved partners. These additional inspectors will be carrying a letter of authorisation from the HSE. You can also call 0300 790 6896 to verify their credentials.

Wider benefits of being COVID-secure

It is important that you cooperate with these inspections, as refusing to do so can result in enforcement action. But it’s not just about covering yourself legally. Like most employers, we’re sure that you’ll want to do everything you can to look after your staff and customers.

There are business benefits to following guidelines too. Many people are still anxious about being out in public, and they will favour businesses who are making a visible effort to keep them safe. A consumer research report from Cennox suggests two thirds of UK consumers are choosing where to shop based on the COVID safety measures. Customers will remember the businesses who went the extra mile during the pandemic, and will reward them with their loyalty in the future.

Examples of good and bad practice

The HSE has already found many examples of businesses getting it right. It inspected a gym in Oldham and was so impressed that it now uses it as an example of best practice. When the gym reopened in July it introduced a three-step entry process for members – a temperature check, track and trace via a key fob, and automatically dispensed hand sanitiser.

The gym also reduced its capacity, moved its exercise machines further apart and introduced a one way system. The successful inspection generated a lot of positive publicity, proving once again that following the guidelines is good for business.

Sadly, not all businesses are doing their bit. A Bristol tattoo parlour was fined £1,000 and had its equipment seized after repeatedly refusing to follow COVID-19 rules. The business continued to operate during the second national lockdown, ignoring several closure requests.

As well as the financial penalty, there has been some call to boycott the parlour when it reopens. Just as going the extra mile can generate positive publicity, ignoring regulations can do significant damage to your reputation.

Further support with COVID security

Whether or not you end up being inspected, it is essential to make an effort to be COVID-safe. Social distancing and handwashing are as important as ever, but you should, by now, have undertaken a full COVID-19 risk assessment. If you need specialist help with this, get in touch. We can provide expert risk assessments and follow up advice to make sure that your business is COVID-safe. Call or email us today to get started.

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