Office workers in face masks

HSE responds to COVID-19 workplace safety complaints

The HSE has been criticised for its action against COVID-19 safety failings in the workplace, having issued just 192 enforcement notices from 134,000 complaints since the crisis started. 

This compares to the year before the pandemic hit, in which the HSE issued 7,000 notices in response to 32,000 complaints. 

Concerns have been raised about employers who are failing to protect workers, but HSE Chief Executive Sarah Albon told Radio 4’s Today programme that many firms had acted when warned, meaning further action was unnecessary. 

"It's really about employers' willingness to work with us cooperatively to put things right before it gets to the point of formal notices," Albon said.

Lockdown rules currently require everyone to work from home unless it is impossible for them to do so. For those that cannot do their job remotely, employers should be putting measures in place to ensure the safety of employees and stop the spread of the virus. 

"The vast majority of employers have been doing the right thing and have been trying to do the right thing," Albon said.

The HSE has also introduced telephone spot-checks. "We're trying to work with business wherever, to make them make changes immediately in order to keep the workplace safe," its Chief Executive said.