News release from 01/02/2022

Further practical support for South Cambs businesses to reduce COVID spread

Further practical support for South Cambs businesses to reduce COVID spread

South Cambridgeshire District Council is contacting local businesses to help support their efforts to reduce COVID transmission in the workplace.

Working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and alongside local public health authorities to support the understanding of patterns in confirmed coronavirus cases in the area, the Council will be providing advice and guidance via telephone or un-announced in-person visits.

The Council will be seeing what measures are in place to help tackle the spread of COVID and will also be offering support in managing risk and protecting workers, customers and visitors. This ranges from specific advice to, if necessary, issuing enforcement notices or stopping certain work practices until they are made safe.

Those with poor controls will be referred back to the Council’s Covid Team to follow up with further advice and guidance. Where businesses fail to comply then this could lead to prosecution. However, wherever possible, Council officers will seek to engage and discuss measures with local businesses and a prosecution would always be a last resort. Since the start of the pandemic, the Council’s approach to engaging with local businesses has meant the need for any COVID-related prosecutions has been avoided.

Working to manage the transmission of COVID means that businesses should conduct a risk assessment to understand the measures they may require to protect workers and others from the virus. Government guidance on how to manage the risk in different business sectors is available at Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

HSE will also check that businesses have measures in place to manage work-related stress and support workers. Where stress may be a problem, employers should include it in their risk assessment and take action to tackle it. See Stress at work - HSE

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Licensing Cllr Brian Milnes (pictured) said: “The vast majority of our local businesses have done an incredible job in making their premises as COVID-secure as possible throughout the pandemic. This is about ensuring they have someone on hand to support and advise them – as they have undoubtedly supported communities more than ever during the past two years. COVID rates locally and across the country remain high. Cllr Brian Milnes  Managing the risk of spreading coronavirus in the workplace needs to be the priority for all businesses and it is a legal duty for them to protect their workers and others from harm. This means making business adjustments to stop the spread of COVID in the workplace. We advise employers to work with their employees when implementing changes, to help increase confidence with workers, customers and the local community.”

HSE and local authority inspectors are finding some common issues across a range of sectors across the country, including failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising, and maintaining and failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime, particularly at busy times of the day.

Cllr Milnes added: “All businesses are in scope for spot checks which means businesses of any size in any sector can receive an unannounced check to ensure they are working safely to manage the risk of spreading COVID. By making sure that businesses have measures in place to manage the risks, we can benefit the health of the local community as well as support the local and national UK economy.”