Unite has called for the return of spot check safety inspections in various sectors, including social care and health.
The trade union has written to both the business secretary, Alok Sharma, and the work and pensions secretary, Therese Coffey, asking for immediate measures to be introduced to ensure that proactive inspections can be undertaken again in order to prevent further spikes in the coronavirus pandemic.
In particular, the union has called for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to resume such inspections, which ended in some sectors in 2011.
‘It is absolutely critical that proactive inspections are re-introduced in all sectors immediately but with emphasis where workers are most in danger of being exposed to COVID-19,’ said Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmel.
‘It is chilling that both social care and healthcare are excluded from proactive inspections because they were deemed to be low risk, yet nearly 200 workers have died from COVID-19 in those sectors since the pandemic began.
‘The pandemic has exposed how in so many ways the current regulation and enforcement culture in the UK is lacking,’ added Ms Cartmel.
‘In the short term, the HSE and local authorities need to be given the powers and the finances to properly inspect workplaces if we are serious about reducing the likelihood of transmission, ensuring that social distancing takes place and avoiding a second spike.
‘Unite has repeatedly made the offer to government to assist with implementing workplace social distancing and ensuring other safety measures are in place. The union has thousands of skilled and dedicated health and safety reps in its ranks who could and should be asked to play a role in protecting the entire workforce.’
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