Failure to take reasonably practicable measures to control COVID-19

Posted on June 20th, 2022

Following the death of an employee in January 2021, who had tested positive for COVID-19, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently fined Burnley College for failing to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety and welfare of its staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The HSE investigated the circumstances surrounding the death and also investigated a number of other concerns relating to alleged shortcomings in COVID-19 control measures at the college. The HSE found strong evidence to suggest a:

  • Failure to follow social distancing requirements.
  • Failure to notify close contacts of those who tested positive.
  • Staff encouraged not to report close contacts.

Examples included three colleagues sharing an office which only had a window for ventilation and a failure to meet social distancing during meetings and social activities with not all attendees wearing face coverings. The HSE concluded that the evidence presented as to whether the employee contracted the virus at work, or as a result of work activity, was inconclusive.

Health and safety risk assessments

Since 1 April 2022, there is no longer a requirement for all employers to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their health and safety risk assessments.

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