The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) annual report for the financial year 2020 to 2021 notes that, from early 2020 it has been dealing with the new high risk of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Some industries and sectors previously considered low risk in terms of worker protection or public safety are now considered potentially higher risk during the crisis.
In response, since late March 2020 the HSE says it has carried out a programme of interventions to check how businesses are implementing measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19. It has employed a ‘blended approach’, including virtual inspections (using IT platforms), spot checks carried out by telephone call, and traditional on-site visits and responding to concerns.
The report says the HSE has continued to amplify this through its ‘COVID-Secure’ campaign, a blended, ‘ONE HSE’ approach of regulatory interventions, mass market or targeted communications, and stakeholder/partnership engagement that brings together experts from across the organisation. Using existing resources and the additional £14.2m funding made available in May 2020, HSE aided the safe return to work and ensured employers are managing risks posed by COVID-19 by carrying out compliance spot checks to ensure COVID protocols on social distancing and infection control measures were being adhered to.
Where businesses are not managing risks to people’s safety or health, the HSE says it secures improvements in line with its enforcement policy and enforcement management model. Through proportionate enforcement action, it seeks to prevent harm, secure sustained improvement in the management of health and safety risk and hold people to account when they fail to meet their obligations to protect people. Where appropriate, the HSE says it prosecutes those who behave in a reckless way or where there has been a serious breach of duty.
The report includes a synopsis of work to support government initiatives in tackling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace and performance against the key strategic themes as outlined in our 2020/21 Business Plan:
Leading and engage with others to improve workplace health and safety.
Providing an effective regulatory framework.
Securing effective management and control of risk.
Reducing the likelihood of low-frequency, high-impact catastrophic incidents.
Enabling improvement through efficient and effective delivery.
Some example figures of HSE's performance 2020/21 include:
Completed 206 prosecutions with a 94% success rate for convictions.
Issued over 2,950 notices including approximately:
1100 notices for improvement
1825 prohibition notices.
Completed 58% of fatal investigations within 12 months of receiving primacy against our target of 80% – delivery was affected by issues related to COVID-19 working restrictions.
Reductions have been made in:
Greenhouse gas emissions by 73%.
Use of domestic flights by 78% and waste generated by 74% (against 2009/10 baselines).
Paper usage by 78% (against 2011/12 baseline).
Business plan delivery
COVID-19 compliance: over 9000 inspections.
Food and drink manufacturing: 1,000 inspections.
Waste and recycling: 1,000 inspections.
Construction sector: delivering 1120 inspections under a planned major health campaign.
Asbestos: 860 inspections and 100% of asbestos licence applications were delivered.
Completed over 182 700 spot checks to ensure workplace premises were COVID-secure, including 5000 spot checks on schools across the UK.
Established new UK regulatory regimes during EU exit transition period.
The full report can be found here.
HSE September 2021