THE TUC HAS WRITTEN to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warning that workers’ safety is being put at risk by confusion created by guidance announced by the Prime Minister on Covid-19 and workplace risk assessments.
The Prime Minister’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan, presented to parliament on 21 February, states that from 1 April, employers will no longer have to explicitly consider Covid-19 in their risk assessments.
However, the TUC warns that this change conflicts with the statutory duty employers have to “make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work” (Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations reg.3(1)).
The union body says that the regulation requires any risk to health to be incorporated in a risk assessment, and this must therefore include the ongoing risks working people face from contracting Covid-19, including subsequently developing long Covid.
The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Wherever you work, you have a right to be safe. And your employer has a responsibility to fully assess the risks you face and take appropriate action.
“But ministers are sowing dangerous confusion on Covid safety at work. Longstanding rules on workplace safety clearly indicate that employers should consider Covid risks, but the government has sent out a conflicting message. And this may leave working people facing risks that could and should be prevented.
“We want ministers to clear up this confusion by advising employers that they must still consider Covid-19 in workplace risk assessments. And we are advising workplace health and safety reps that they should continue to request specific information on Covid-19 when they are consulted on risk assessments.”
* Source: Trades Union Congress