The HSE has changed their inspection processes to introduce spot checks on the 'Covid secure' status of workplaces.
This means an increased number of workplaces are being contacted, largely as a result of pressure from unions demanding some assurance that employers weren't simply marking their own homework and declaring themselves 'Covid secure without making any changes'.
Unfortunately, as you would expect with this Government, rather than employing more HSE inspectors, they have outsourced this work out to a private company called CIVICA, who already perform similar functions for a number of public and private sector organisations. This should at least provide some level of quality compared to the ongoing testing fiasco.
CIVICA will be making initial contact with employers over the phone, with Inspectors only making workplace visits if the responses to the phone enquiries are unsatisfactory, or if the employer does not respond.
HSE have confirmed that the process will work as follows:
1. Current HSE COVID spot check inspections are a three stage process, with stages one and two being phone calls.
2. The stage one phone call will be made by an employee of CIVICA, HSE’s contracted representatives. During this stage one phone call, if a business wants clarification that it is HSE calling:
• They will be given the HSE CAT (Complaints and Advice Team) phone line number (0300 003 1747), in order for the business to check the legitimacy of the call.
• A time will be arranged with the business for the CIVICA representative to call back, and continue with the stage one process.
3. If the business fails stage one, in terms of giving unsatisfactory answers to the questions in respect of COVID controls at the business premises, then the business will be called again by an HSE employee (i.e. stage two), who will be able to question controls more thoroughly. If a business wants clarification that it is HSE calling, at this stage two, email exchanges will be possible.
4. Failure to satisfactorily answer questions during stage two, will result in a visit by an HSE inspector (i.e. stage three).
5. Businesses are advised, during the stages one and two phone calls, that a failure to engage with the phone call process, will result in a visit by an HSE inspector.
This process will only apply to workplaces regulated by the HSE (Factories; construction sites; schools; residential care homes; airports etc). It does not apply to shops or offices.
This is progress of sorts, but it doesn't go nearly far enough, and will likely be closed down once the second wave pandemic has peaked.
In the meantime, members should be aware that complaints to HSE on Covid will be handled in this fashion.
The method of contacting HSE remains unchanged. Primarily the https://extranet.hse.gov.uk/lfserver/external/turep1 form, or the HSE Concerns Team on 0300 003 1747.