Employers have a duty of care to employees and they should make your workplace as safe as possible. Here is a list of the most common health and safety related questions during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- First Aid: Advice for people holding first aid at work certificates
The Health & Safety Executive NI (HSENI) is aware that, as a result of events or circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, people holding first aid at work certificates near expiry date that experience disruption to access to requalification training.
Therefore, HSENI will find it fair and practical to extend the validity of the current certificates by up to 3 months if requalification training is prevented for reasons specifically connected with coronavirus or by compliance with relevant government advice. Staff will make use of the tools available (written or online) to update their information whenever possible.
2. Time requirements of reporting on injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences
Businesses must continue to report fatal and major injury incidents as soon as possible to HSENI. During this period, they will request that you restrict telephone notifications to fatalities and major injuries only and that you use the online reporting forms for all other reports available at: Report an incident.
3. Protecting staff from COVID-19 and risk assessment
COVID-19 exposure can pose a health risk to workers and other people at a workplace. Employers should continue to ensure that a suitable risk assessment of COVID-19 is conducted in their workplace and appropriate measures are put in place in line with current guidelines from the Public Health Agency.
Those steps should be communicated at the workplace to all related workers and others. Control strategies should depend on the level of danger and the type of workplace and should not decrease the level of protection provided by current measures ( e.g. leaving fire doors open to minimise the risk of contaminated door handles causes increased risk. Appropriate regular cleaning and advice on hand hygiene is appropriate).
Critically, employers should take into account the most up to date official advice and guidance from the Public Health Agency on how to mitigate the health risk to employees and others at the place of work. Employers are advised to keep up to date on COVID-19 by referring to the Public Health Agency website.
4. Safety Critical Functions
In this time of uncertainty, where workers with responsibility for safety critical tasks and checks may be absent from work, at short notice for long periods due to coronavirus, it is vital that employers have the necessary measures and resources in place to ensure the continuity of safe systems.
Employers should identify key workers who carry out critical activities and plan for what should happen if they fall ill. This would include training additional members of staff and developing safe operating procedures others can follow.
5. Statutory Inspections (Lifting Equipment, Pressure Systems etc.)
HSENI is aware of the difficulties the industry can face when it comes to fulfilling its legal obligations regarding statutory inspection of products such as lifting equipment and pressure systems. Many insurance enforcement bodies are also working in conjunction with their clients at the time of writing. However, if due to the current situation, statutory inspections can not be performed, businesses will make every effort to ensure that plant maintenance is maintained and internal inspection procedures are conducted as usual.
If you believe your employer is not following the guidelines outlined above in order to keep you and your colleagues safe, the team at McPartland Solicitors will be happy to help. Should you need advice on this or any other employment matter, please do not hesitate to contact our employment team.