Workplace Report March 2021

Health & safety - HSE Monitor

Union demands more HSE funding and aerosol transmission action

Prospect has highlighted “the critical importance” of HSE funding ahead of the March budget and described additional money provided last year as a “sticking plaster”. An extra £14 million made available to the HSE replaced only a fraction of the 50% real terms funding cut since 2010 and was spent mainly on external contractors, the union said.

Private sector enforcement contractors, known as Covid support officers, have in many cases been recruited from the payment-chasing sector.

The union also condemned the government’s failure to “effectively communicate the risks associated with aerosol transmission of Covid, and the steps that workplaces can take to effectively mitigate them to keep workers safe.”

“The government must do much more to put ventilation on an equal footing to other Covid risks in its advice to employers,” it added.

Issues to be considered include how occupancy levels in buildings relate to the amount of fresh air available, whether face coverings are needed in communal areas and stairwells, making sure appropriate types of face covering and personal protective equipment (PPE) are supplied and used correctly, and how more fresh air can be routed into workplaces, Prospect added.