I’m sure over the past days and weeks you’ve been bombarded with newsletters, articles and sage words from lots of law firms telling you how to deal with the COVID 19 pandemic from an employer’s viewpoint to your commercial arrangements to name just a couple.
I thought I would take this edition of the newsletter to perhaps raise a cautionary word about regulatory law generally and health & safety law specifically.
You cannot fail to notice that literally every day the law is being relaxed on many fronts to allow a flexible approach to dealing with the issue. Whilst you may be comforted by the steps being taken both locally and nationally, don’t forget that the same standards & duties that you are required to adhere to in “normal times” still apply during these exceptional circumstances.
At the time of writing, your obligations as a duty holder under Health and Safety Legislation haven’t altered. You may perhaps agree that the need to act and do all that is reasonably practicable to keep your employees and others safe has been enhanced rather than diminished in these exceptional times.
It’s important not to forget the standards & duties that should be upheld and in the case of changes due to COVID 19 such as a reduced work force & agile working, should be revisited to ensure they are fit for purpose.
One obvious example is your arrangements in relation to lone and remote working which in the past may not have warranted too much scrutiny or a formalisation of a policy or procedure, but now are a daily activity.
Despite these hectic and uncertain times, take a moment to consider how you operate now as opposed to how you may have operated last week – what has changed, and do your health and safety arrangements need to change to keep pace?
Should anything go wrong and months in the future your regulator is asking you potentially awkward questions, just be aware that saying, ‘it was COVID 19’ may potentially be some mitigation when something has gone wrong, as far as I can see, it will not be a defence.
Please check your procedures reflect the reality of today, and keep them reviewed and change them when necessary.
On behalf of the Regulatory Team we hope you all stay safe & healthy and you know where we are should you need any assistance.