The British Safety Council has today demanded that no worker be forced back to their workplace until it has been made safe. The government has indicated that more people should be going to work and last night the prime minister, Boris Johnson said: “You should go to work if you can’t work from home and to ensure you are safe at work we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure”.
The British Safety Council is providing support to employers with workers on the front line, including healthcare workers and essential workers in retail, manufacturing and construction. As well as providing direct support through the lock down, the British Safety Council is developing new services to help organisations adapt as lock down restrictions are eased.
Speaking today from his home Mike Robinson, chief executive of the British Safety Council said: “Yesterday’s announcement compounded a week of mixed messages that will put workers at risk – it is reckless to urge people back to work before clear guidance has been published and before employers have put in place plans to make workplaces safe.
Instead of a phased plan, allowing managers to understand and interpret guidance, anxious workers are going to be piling back on to public transport without any clear rules and guidance. We are working to help our members and customers to carry out proper risk assessments, but the confusing messages from government are not helping anyone.
He went on to say: “We will look in detail at the guidance when available, and we are working closely with members to ensure that employers carry out their duty to ensure workers are safe, whether that’s at home, travelling to and from work and in their place of work. I know that most people are keen to get back to work and back to some normality, but if we follow this chaotic approach, we risk undermining all the hard work achieved through the lock down. In a national emergency there is a strong instinct to give the government the benefit of the doubt – but they need to sort this mess out. When the guidance is published it must put the safety of workers front and centre and end the current confusion.”