Unions warn it could take TWO weeks to do health and safety checks before Brits can go back to work


UNION bosses have warned it will take at least two weeks for businesses to be able to put in crucial health and safety checks and for Brits to head back to work.

New Government guidance on how to make workplaces “covid-secure” includes staggering start times, putting in screens and preventing staff working in close proximity.

Construction workers have been encouraged to get back to work

Director of national health, safety and environment at the GMB union Dan Shears has claimed the rules, released by The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (Beis), will take a fortnight to implement, according to The Independent.

Staff have been told not to work if they feel “unsafe”.

Mr Shears said: “There’s no legislation around this, but employers have to assess the risk of workers being exposed to Covid-19, and implement ways of reducing that risk to the lowest level that they can achieve.

“In practice, that will require screens, barriers, floor marking, signage, hand sanitiser, face masks and potentially a whole range of other interventions.

“All of this will take time to procure and set up, so I would suggest at least a week and more likely two weeks, unless the employer had this equipment already in the workplace.”

The Prime Minister said last night employers must make sure staff are able to work in conditions that do not risk transmitting coronavirus.

The strict guidance tells workers to turn their backs on their colleagues, bring their own packed lunches in and to use toilets one at a time.

Some companies are even looking at hard hat tags for construction workers that vibrate when people come within two metres of each other.

Decisions over whether a workplace is deemed safe will fall to union-appointed health and safety inspectors.

The guidance told employers: “You must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers.

“As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.”

“If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.”

Boris Johnson admitted ending lockdown would be “supremely difficult” but that those who cannot work from home should head back to work to restart the economy.

Ministers said they consulted with 250 businesses, trade bodies and unions to agree the new guidance.

Mr Johnson said last night: “The key thing is those places of employment should be safe and guidance will be published about how to make places of work covid-secure how to make transport covid-secure.” 

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “This guidance provides a framework to get the UK back to work in a way that is safe for everyone.

“These are practical steps to enable employers to identify risks that COVID-19 creates and to take pragmatic measures to mitigate them.”

Workplaces have also been told to stagger start times to ensure there is not a mad rush-hour on public transport.

The PM said those who are heading back to avoid work should avoid public transport where possible.


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