Workplace Report (November 2021)

Health & safety - HSE Monitor

HSE makes first Covid spot check prosecution

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced the first prosecution arising from a Covid spot check. Construction principal contractor Umar Akram Khatab was sentenced to a 12-month community order and ordered to pay £3,000 towards costs, plus a victim surcharge of £95 after pleading guilty to breaches of Section 21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

A spot check by a HSE inspector at a site in Manchester in July 2020 identified “a host of safety issues” related to working at height, welfare, site security and electricity, as well as Covid-19. The inspector served a prohibition notice and two improvement notices. A return inspection in August 2020 found “little or no improvements”, resulting in a further prohibition notice regarding an unsupported excavation.

“We’ve repeatedly stressed that prosecution is a last resort, but this case clearly illustrates that where there is consistent disregard to Covid or other risks to employees’ health and safety, HSE will use its powers to take action,” said HSE inspector Rebecca Vaudrey. The HSE has carried out more than 316,000 Covid spot checks since the beginning of the pandemic, “with the priority to urgently make workplaces safe from transmission risks, rather than heavy-handed enforcement”, she added.

The TUC, unions and safety campaigners have repeatedly called for tougher enforcement of workplace safety rules throughout the pandemic.

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