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Health and Safety Executive Publish Statistics for 2019/20

If you have a health and safety or management role, you may have seen a number of articles concerning the HSE report. I hope that this article will provide a useful document to summarise the key facts and figures including that of trends in recent years.

Fatal Injuries

We have reported previously that the fatal statistics published by the HSE have shown a general flattening of work place fatalities from 2008/2009 through to 2020. Having said that, this year’s rate of fatal injury is the lowest on record (since records began in 1981) showing a rate of fatal injury (per 100,000 workers) of 0.34.

Once again, the highest number of fatalities by main industry group is that of construction. This is followed by agriculture; forestry and fishing; manufacturing; transport and storage; wholesale; retail; motor repair; accommodation and food.

Another trend which is common to see when looking at the annual statistics is that falls from height are the highest number of fatal injuries to workers by the kind of accident.

To summarise the fatal injury statistics, once again the figures show a long term trend of being broadly flat. It seems apparent that this year’s and next year’s figures will be impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions placed throughout the country and may, in turn, show a disproportionate reduction in workplace fatalities as a result of this. This is something to consider, not only with statistics of fatalities having taken place, but also when managing work places returning to work and the risk of harm following an absence be that through a compulsory lockdown or perhaps through self-isolation or long term illness.

Work Related Ill Health

The key figures here show that 1.6million working people are suffering from a work related illness and 38.8million working days have been lost due to work related illness and workplace injury.

Of those 1.6million workers, the statistics show those workers identified with stress, depression or anxiety account for 51% of work related ill health. 2019/20 figures show that the rate of work related ill health per 100,000 workers has increased this year following a broadly flat trend in previous years. In particular, the rate of self-reported work related stress, depression or anxiety has increased in recent years and again is shown in the statistics 2019/20. The HSE statistics state that work load, lack of support, violence, threats or bullying and changes at work are estimated to be the main causes of work related stress, depression or anxiety. It sets out that 17.9million working days due were lost due to work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2019/20.

It is apparent from the HSE that they are concerned about the rise in figures and have provided additional guidance in respect of managing the risk of this type of workplace illness.

Mental health  has always been a difficult risk to manage as it is intangible and no one size fits all approach is applicable. It is important that you are aware of the statistics and increases in these types of work related illnesses to allow you to review your policies. It is important that your employees are supported and not suffering as a result of work. An aggravating factor will be that of COVID-19 and the impact this has had on all of our lives both personally and professionally. Please bear in mind that just because the impact of Covid-19 has affected everybody, this does not relieve you of your obligations under health and safety law.


The HSE have prosecuted 325 cases that have resulted in a conviction in 2019/20. £35.8million of fines resulted from prosecutions taken by the HSE where a conviction was achieved in 2019/20.

Despite the eye-watering figures above, this year has seen a fall in the number of cases prosecuted by the HSE which continues a trend from 2014/5. In addition, enforcement notices issued by the HSE have decreased.

The HSE have made it very clear that enforcement has not stopped as a result of COVID-19 and the restrictions placed upon it. It is likely that we will see in the coming years enforcement related to COVID-19 and the measures put in place by organisations scrutinised.


To conclude, the key points from these annual statistics are as follows:

  • The number of workers killed at work in 2019/20 is 111.
  • The most common type of fatality in 2019/20 is that of a fall from height.
  • Mental health is of concern and on the increase in relation to work related ill health.
  •  £35.8million was recovered in fines, which is a decrease on previous years.

It’s important to review these figures annually to understand long term trends and where increases/decreases are occurring. COVID-19 has had an impact on almost all elements of our lives, including that of health and safety statistics. The sharp increase in mental illness as a result of work is something that should be taken very seriously by organisations. It is important that you ensure communication with everyone at work and take a bespoke approach to individuals concerned with your organisation.

If you would like to view a summary of the statistics from the HSE, then please follow this link:

If you have any questions or concerns about your health and safety requirements, then please contact the regulatory team at Woods Whur on 0113 234 3055 or

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£450,000 fine for fatigued workers

One thing that is consistent throughout the work place today is the risks of stress, tiredness and in some cases the fatigue of employees.

Where deadlines, important contracts and absenteeism levels are just a few pressures within all organisations. The employer must be alert to the risks that these pressures present on employees, with fatigue being a common issue that is rarely formally identified and therefore in turn rarely acted upon, but perhaps unofficially well known within an organisation.

The most important point, as with most of our health and safety articles, is to complete an assessment of the risks for any changes to working arrangements and specifically to individuals. Such an assessment has to consider the risks posed by the shift work, the time off allowed, the nature of the works, location and rest periods to name a few areas to consider.

Don’t assume every employee is the same. An 18 year old may struggle on a night shift whilst a 60 year old may not. An employee’s goodwill or fear for their job if they refuse a particular working arrangement will not protect an organisation in the event of an incident or inspection.

A recent case concerning a fatigued employee has concluded in a contractor, Renown Consultants Ltd, being found guilty of health and safety offences, in a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). This prosecution followed a tragic accident in which 2 individuals died in 2013 following the driver falling asleep at the wheel after driving back from a night shift. The individuals were employees of the contractor and it was found that no risk assessment was carried out in relation to fatigue of the individuals in addition to not following its own fatigue management policy. As a result the employer in question was fined £450,000 plus prosecution costs.

Fatigue can often be happily ignored where an individual is willing to put in extra hours to assist the business, but as an employer, there is a duty to ensure the safety of employees under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Therefore, even where the individual is willing to work, this would not provide a defence in the event of a prosecution against a company in which an accident occurred and it was known to the company that the individual was essentially overworked.

To summarise, the key points are:

  • Communication with individuals is key and ensuring open communication and with trade unions if you have employees who are members;
  • Complete a risk assessment regarding the risks. Anticipate not just the normal working practices, but deal with fatigue in particular. How will you put measures in place to reduce or remove the risk? Fatigue is entirely foreseeable at work, so there is an expectation you will have considered and addressed it;
  • Implement a policy that sets out the company requirements as to working hours, overtime requests, on call duties, and shift swapping where applicable, using public transport.

As with most risks to the work place, ensure the systems are monitored, reviewed and updated to assess employee fatigue. If you would like to discuss this with any of the regulatory team then please do not hesitate to get in touch with Sarah:

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Asbestos in “Older” Properties – What Should You Know?

The contractor and the property owner was sentenced after pleading guilty to offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The prosecution came about after a proactive inspection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which shows that the risk of prosecution when no actual reported exposure has taken place.

Briefly, the law on managing asbestos is contained within the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. This requires a duty holder to manage asbestos by monitoring whether there is asbestos present and determining issues such as whether if it has been disturbed and required action to seal it or restrict access to it or to determine whether works need to be commenced for the removal of the asbestos. Duty holders are the owners of non-domestic premises (for example industrial, commercial or public buildings including those ‘common’ areas of domestic premises such as flats or houses converted into flats) or the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises, for example through an agreement or contract.

Asbestos surveys are required by law to determine the presence of any asbestos before any works are commenced on buildings. In the case referred to above, asbestos surveys were completed and they identified the presence of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) however, these were not removed prior to the work. The building contractors were appointed whilst the property owner stripped asbestos from within the former hotel. This was not undertaken in a safe manner. Due to the extent of the spread of asbestos dust and debris throughout the building, whilst works were ongoing then it was deemed that workers and visitors to the properties were at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.

Co-operation and the sharing of information with those that may come into contact is fundamental in this case and is required by the Regulations. The lack of sharing information is one of the main reasons there was deemed to be a risk in this case to workers and visitors to the properties.

Both the property owner and the contractor (B And SBM Limited) pleaded guilty and were sentenced in the case of the contractor to £22,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs and the property owner was ordered to carry out 120 hours unpaid work in the community and ordered to pay costs of £7,500.

The above identifies again that work, including renovation work, to properties should be taken carefully and planned effectively with a clear step by step containment of any asbestos that may be identified. Clear steps should be considered as follows:

  1. Identification of any asbestos needs to be completed by way of survey and any other enquiries;
  2. Decide what to do with it by way of a suitable action plan;
  3. If necessary, instruct specialist contractors to remove/isolate the asbestos;
  4. Makes persons aware of the presence of asbestos. This could be residents/employees/other contractors/ any other visitors.

It is a misconception that is it only properties which are exceptionally old may contain asbestos, this is not the case and do not make that mistake when considering works on buildings. Asbestos can be found in any industrial or residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000 and even this date is no guarantee, the duty is on you as a duty holder to satisfy yourself.

If there are any concerns that you may have in relation to asbestos and it’s management, then please do not hesitate to contact Sarah:

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Welcome to the Tier System

The Government has decided that everything has become too confusing, that people don’t know whether they are coming or going, and that things need to be made simpler so that we can all understand what we’re supposed to be doing at any given time.

Rather than impose a national lockdown like we experienced in March, or continue with specific local lockdowns, the Government has decided to create a tier system consisting of medium, high, and very high tiers together with legislation and guidance to accompany them. The tier system came into force at 00:01 on 14 October.

This article will look at what the rules are for each of the tiers and the differences between them.

Medium (Tier 1)

This is the tier that applies to most of the country and that replicates the status quo prior to the introduction of the tier system. That means:

  • The rule of 6 (e.g. not meeting in groups larger than 6 indoors or outdoors)
  • Restrictions on opening hours for hospitality businesses (e.g. 10pm closure)
  • Restrictions on operation for hospitality businesses (e.g. table service)
  • Most other premises able to stay open
  • Working from home where possible

The medium tier doesn’t introduce any significant changes day-to-day and the situation will be reviewed monthly. The same is not true of the high and very high tiers.

High (Tier 2)

This tier applies to large parts of the north of England. A full list of the areas included can be found in Schedule 2 of the relevant regulations and includes places such as Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham and many others.

The key differences between the medium and the high tier are:

  • A ban on mixing with other households or people outside your support bubble anywhere inside, including in private homes. Seeing other households whilst still keeping to groups of no more than 6 outdoors is still possible
  • The ban above also includes hospitality businesses so premises will need to make sure they aren’t accommodating groups that aren’t from one household/a support bubble

Areas given tier 2 status will be reviewed every 14 days with the rules reviewed every 28 days.

Very High (Tier 3)

This tier applies to the worst affected areas and includes Liverpool and other surrounding areas. It is quite likely that other areas will be added to tier 3 in the coming days/weeks.

The key differences between the very high and the high/medium tiers are:

  • pubs and bars must close. They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal
  • advising people not to travel into or out of an area if it has been categorised as a very high alert level area. This is part of wider measures to help manage the risk of transmission. You can continue to travel into or out of very high alert level areas if you need to for work, education, to access youth services or because of caring responsibilities.

In addition to these restrictions the Government guidance also suggests they will consider:

  • restrictions preventing the sale of alcohol in hospitality or closing all hospitality (takeaway and delivery permitted)
  • closing indoor and outdoor entertainment and tourist attractions and venues
  • closing venues such as leisure centres and gyms (while ensuring provision remains available for elite athletes, youth and disabled sport and physical activity)
  • closing public buildings, such as libraries and community centres (while ensuring provision remains available for youth clubs and childcare activity and support groups)
  • closing personal care and close contact services or prohibiting the highest-risk activities
  • closing performing arts venues for the purposes of performing to audiences

In short, the types of restrictions imposed under Tier 3 are not far short of those experienced in March.

If you are a premises that is affected by the new system and would like advise on what the system means for you please contact us for support.

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The Latest Coronavirus Regulations

More rules are upon us! Once again the country has stopped in its tracks and scrambled to decipher the government’s latest attempt to tackle the pandemic. Unfortunately for many the leisure industry is taking the biggest hit in the new regulations.

A number of these new precautions are already in place in local lockdowns and are generally aimed at minimising the risk of transmission and infection. The official legislation was released overnight:

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2020

“Restrictions on opening hours of businesses and services

4A.—(1) A person responsible for carrying on a restricted business or providing a restricted service (“P”) must not carry on that business or provide that service during the emergency period between the hours of 22:00 and 05:00, subject to paragraphs (2), (3) and (4).

(2) Paragraph (1) does not prevent P selling food or drink for consumption off the premises between the hours of 22:00 and 05:00—

(a) by making deliveries in response to orders received—

 (i) through a website, or otherwise by on-line communication;

 (ii) by telephone, including orders by text message; or

 (iii) by post; or

(b) to a purchaser who collects the food or drink in a vehicle, and to whom the food or drink is passed without the purchaser or any other person leaving the vehicle.”

What has changed in restaurants and bars?

The main changes for restaurants, pubs and bars are the 22:00 curfew, staff and customers wearing face coverings and mandatory table service.

The Guidance on face coverings states; ‘a face covering should cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably, fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face- be secured to the head with ties or ear loops, be made of material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton, ideally include 2 layers of fabric’. There is a debate at the moment as to whether a visor complies with this guidance as it is not fixed to the side of the face.

Customers may take off their face covering when eating and drinking, but must don them when using toilet facilities and on entering and leaving the restaurant. Staff in retail must also now wear face coverings. Those already exempt from face coverings will remain exempt.

The curfew kicks in at 22:00 sharp, not a call for last orders or a wind down but a closure at 22.00. Operators will need to think about how and when they begin to wind down in order to comply with this.

Many venues have launched table service phone apps which have thrived in the current conditions, these kinds of innovations to service will continue to help operators to comply with conditions and maintain their business. It is worth noting that the strict table service rules only apply to venues serving alcohol. For those who aren’t, they must still take “all reasonable steps to ensure that the customer remains seated whilst consuming the food or drink on the premises”.

Operators must also be clear on the Rule of 6 (more on this later), specifically not allowing bookings of more than 6, unless they are a ‘bubble’ or household, and not allowing mingling. The social distanced table layouts will need to remain in place.

The good news is delivery services may continue, providing they are delivery and not collection.

Who else does the curfew affect?

The curfew also affects businesses providing food or drink prepared on the premises for immediate consumption off the premises, social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, cinemas, theatres, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, bingo halls and concern halls

However, whilst all of the above are subject to the curfew, some are not required to provide table service as they are not in Part 1, Schedule 3 of the regulations. These are bowling alleys, cinemas, theatres, amusement arcades or other indoor leisure centres or facilities, funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks and adventure parks and activities, bingo halls and concert halls.

There has been some additional guidance released on cinemas, theatres and concert halls, who can stay open after 10pm only if the performance started before 10pm and provided they do not serve food or drink after this time, however for the rest of the venues on this list it remains to be seen whether any additional guidance will be released.

There are some venues exempt from the curfew, including supermarkets, convenience stores, corner shops and newsagents, pharmacists and chemists, petrol stations, cafes or canteens (at a hospital, care home or school, prison) and services providing food or drink to the homeless.

What about hotels?

Hotel bars and restaurants are specifically included in the 22:00 curfew, however the hotels themselves should be able to continue to operate and may provide room service provided it is by delivery only. The regulations are not absolutely clear on this point but certainly if the hotel bed rooms are not included in the licensed area then the delivery of alcohol and food to a bedroom will be an off sale. It appears that the government has not considered the situation in which the licensed area is actually included within the red line of the licensed area but there is no mention of service to hotel rooms being prevented after 22:00. Hotels must close the bars and restaurants at 22:00 .

Track and Trace

Some slight changes to the national track and trace system thanks to the launch of the NHS Track and Trace app. Businesses will be required to display the official NHS QR code allowing customers an alternative to providing their contact details.

The Rule of 6

The exemptions to the Rule of 6 are being narrowed, with the only exemptions now being organised outdoor sport, organised indoor sport for disabled people, weddings (maximum of 15 people) and funerals.

Therefore all other gatherings, including eating in a restaurant, participating in indoor sports or going to a bowling alley, must now only be undertaken in groups of 6. There is still discussion ongoing as to whether this means only 6 people will be allowed in the venue at any one time, or whether several groups of 6 will be allowed into the venue (where social distancing allows for it).

Support groups are limited to 15 people.

What has changed for Taxis?

Whilst the likes of Uber had already implemented mandatory face coverings, this is now the case in all taxis and private hire vehicles.

When does this all kick in?

The majority of these measures take effect on 24 September 2020, and are threatening to last for the winter.

From 28 September even more of these measures are set to become law, and consequently a wider range of businesses in breach will be subject to fines, including:

  • ensuring customers observe the rule of six, and appropriate social distancing through signage, layout, and managing customer entry.
  • reminding customers to wear face coverings where mandated.

Employers will also be banned from requiring self-isolating employees to come to work.

We will keep you updated as matters progress…

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Health and Safety Executive publish figures of Covid-19 reporting

The Health and Safety Executive has released statistics relating to the RIDDOR reports made as a result of occupational exposure to Covid-19. The results showed that 7,971 disease notifications of COVID-19 in workers were reported to the HSE and Local Authorities (LAs) over the period 10th April – 11th July 2020. This figure includes 119 death notifications.

The total suspected occupational COVID-19 reports made by employers to the enforcing authorities are contained within a table that can be viewed on the HSE website with the following link: The table shows the peak of reports week commencing 26 April 2020 with 1,183 reports and the lowest level showing 121 reports week commencing 05 July 2020.

A RIDDOR report applies in respect of COVID-19 where there has been an occupational exposure, i.e. as a result of a person’s work. A report should be made under RIDDOR when one of the following circumstances applies:

  • An accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus (COVID-19). This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
  • A person at work (a worker) has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a case of disease.
  • A worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent.

The majority of reports received are for workers in the Health and Social Work sector, around 75% but this could be higher due to the way that sectors sometimes are misclassified by those making the RIDDOR reports. The details come in light of announcements from the HSE that they will be focusing on COVID compliance spot checks in Bradford and  the surrounding Yorkshire area, following a number of local outbreaks identified in the region.

The publishing of the statistics and announcement of enforcement in Yorkshire follows criticism by the MP for Barnsley East of the HSE’s response to Covid, in particular referring to the response as ‘apalling’ after an outbreak in a Barnsley food factory where three workers have died.

It is important that you are regularly updating yourselves with the HSE guidance and ensure that regular checks are completed to comfort yourself that the operations conducted by your organisation is COVID ready. It is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the guidance available, specifically where you may use cross sector operations which may cross over some of the guidance available. What’s important is that any organisation’s documentation is unique to them and should apply both in writing and practically on a day to day basis. Communication to all that are involved is absolutely essential to ensure that not only the business leaders are aware of its obligations and safeguards, but also all the workers are aware of key documentation and what is in place to protect them which in turn satisfies and discharges the duty of an organisation.

It will be interesting to see some of the enforcement to come from the COVID inspections and if you are approached by the HSE you know where to find us.

If you have any questions about this topic or any other regulatory topic or issue, then please contact the regulatory team at Woods Whur and we would be happy to discuss the law as it stands alongside current guidelines. If you would like to contact us, please email or or call us on 0113 234 3055.

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Data Protection and Contact Tracing – How do Businesses Ensure Cross Compliance?

COVID-19 has seen unprecedented change across all sectors in which everyone has had to adapt and change at a speed.

The government has provided guidance in relation to contact tracing in which they state that organisations in certain sectors should collect details and maintain details of staff, customers and visitors on their premises. Test and Trace is run by the NHS and is a key part of the country’s ongoing COVID-19 response. NHS Test and Trace includes contact tracing staff working to contact everyone that has been potentially exposed to COVID-19 which will assist in eliminating the spread and controlling COVID-19. This scheme is entirely voluntary and the accuracy of the information provided is solely the responsibility of the individual who provides that data. There is no requirement for business to verify an individual’s identity for NHS Test and Trace purposes.

Therefore you may be faced with the situation of collecting personal data, but ensuring you handle it lawfully.

The Information Commissioner’s office, the regulator for data protection, has issued some guidance to organisations regarding protecting customer and visitor details. This can be summarised as follows:

  • Ask for only what’s needed.
  • Be transparent with customers.
  • Carefully store the data.
  • Don’t use it for other purposes.
  • Erase it in line with government guidance.

There are some important key points to be aware of above. In particular, it may be tempting to include individuals personal data on any marketing and mailing lists. However, it is clear that this personal information cannot be used for his purpose where the collection of the data is as a result of contact tracing in line with government guidance.

Although the retention of data for the purpose of track and trace cannot be retained for marketing purposes, you may wish to consider whether you ask express permission for this ability and ensure it is separate and not a requirement of individuals providing their details for the purposes of track and trace. You will need to consider your privacy policy and have clear processes to ensure personal data is collected lawfully.

Another important point is that of retention. The government guidelines currently specify that personal details should be kept for 21 days, which reflects the incubation period for COVID-19 and an additional 7 days. The personal data that is collected for the purpose of contact tracing must be deleted after this time. Please note that records which are made and kept for other business purposes do not need to be disposed of, and this only relates to that of contact tracing.

Now may be the time to look at your organisations privacy policy and also ensure that customers are aware of the collection of their personal data in line with an organisation following government guidance in relation to contact tracing. With the rapid changes we have experienced recently the law in a variety of areas has changed or been relaxed. In some areas it could be said the law conflicts on certain topics. Sadly it is your burden to reconcile how it impacts all your organisation and steer a lawful course through it all!

If you have any questions or are not sure about your requirements of data protection, Covid-19 or any other regulatory matter, then please contact the regulatory team at Woods Whur and we would be happy to discuss the guidelines with you in accordance with GDPR and your wider obligations. If you would like to contact us, please email or or call us on 0113 234 3055.

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Easing of Lockdown Restrictions – What does that mean for employers and keeping employees safe

We have recently seen the Government announce its roadmap to easing and lifting the current restrictions in place as to movement, business closures, and social distancing. There has been a raft of guidance published to ensure that businesses are ‘Covid-ready’ and it appears that attempts are now being made to re-engage the economy after the enforced shutdown to restrict the spread of Covid-19.

In addition to the Government announcements, the Chief Coroner published guidance on 28 April 2020 in respect of Covid-19 deaths and possible exposure in the workplace. Within this document, it confirms that the majority of deaths from Covid-19 are due to the natural progression of a naturally occurring disease.  There is therefore no reason for every death caused by Covid-19 to be referred to a Coroner.

The note does, however, go on to state that in some instances, it is appropriate to make a report under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injury, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) when:

  • An unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus.  This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
  • A worker has been diagnosed as having Covid-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work.  This must be reported as a case of disease.
  • A worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus.

Failure to report a RIDDOR reportable incident is a criminal offence which, if found guilty, is punishable by way of unlimited fine or, where an individual has committed the offence and in the most serious of occasions, a custodial sentence.

A lot of employers may not be directly associated with the risks concerned with coronavirus, as there is in, for example, a hospital setting. However, the recent advice note from the Coroner reiterates that there is a risk out there for all employees, regardless of the industry, in that this could be RIDDOR reportable and therefore, there is exposure of liability to the employer in possible civil & criminal terms.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday 10 May 2020, the restrictions have started to ease from Wednesday 13 May 2020 to allow those people that cannot work from home to go back to work. This is conditional on employers having the suitable safeguards in place needed to ensure that risks have been considered as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and to implement social distancing as required.

You should consider carefully asking employees to return to their places of work without proper plans in place to effectively protect your employees from the risks connected to Covid-19. There is some helpful guidance on the Government website confirming that all employers, before allowing employees back to work, must have completed a specific risk assessment concerning the risks associated with the spread of Covid-19, which is to be circulated and sent to the employees working in that office/space/location.

Life and work as we know it has temporarily changed and this does not stop where there has been the lifting of restrictions. It is an obligation for employers to ensure the health and safety of its employees and manage any risks associated with employee’s completing their work on a regular basis. These are unprecedented times, however, this duty has not changed since the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 came to be law. Remember the risk assessment process of identifying risks and adopting measures to reduce or remove them. This long standing process is equally applicable to Covid-19 as it is to working at height, manual handling etc.

We hope that this article has provided a useful reminder in the, what feels like fast moving situation that we are all currently facing. We hope you are all keeping safe and well and if you would like to discuss this article in more detail and how you can prepare effectively by way of implementation of policies or effective management of risk, then please do not hesitate to contact James and Sarah on or to discuss this.

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COVID 19 – Something Not To Forget

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.


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What a difference a week makes

Last Friday I had a meeting in Manchester followed by a client lunch where we were pre-occupied with discussing how our businesses were going to cope with the Coronavirus outbreak. None of us realised that a week later, the leisure and gambling industries would be so badly affected or by the pace of change. I didn’t anticipate then that I would have asked all of my staff to start working from home and put us into almost isolation. Technology is a wonderful thing and it is amazing that we can keep our business going through remote access to our systems. This doesn’t come anywhere near to the social interaction that we have through the workplace.

A usual Friday morning in the office, in dress down clothing and with a fantastic breakfast sandwich from Nosh, is one of the best days of the working week.

So much has changed at such speed.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, all of our outstanding hearings at licensing authorities around the Country were stood down. These were some review hearings and some premises licence applications that had valid representations. In all of those cases we have been told that the likelihood is that these will not be relisted until after May. This is obviously going to put breaks on the development plans of a number of companies. We also have a number of applications which are currently running through their notice periods and if they receive valid representations, it is in doubt a hearing on those particular will be listed.

I did notice last night that Wandsworth Council held a remote hearing where technology was used to get everybody to remotely log into the hearing.

I have had this previously where I was permitted to dial into a summary review interim steps hearing even though I was away on holiday. It just shows that there is the ability and technology to set this up should we enter a prolonged period of isolation. Gary Grant, the Licensing Specialist Barrister from FTB Chambers, wrote an excellent article entitled ‘Licensing hearings during the Coronvirus crisis.’ This article set out the fact that there is an ability for remote hearings to take place. He highlights that there is no legal bar to holding a Licensing Sub-Committee using remote technology. This will be practically very difficult, albeit legally possible, in that most authority areas have started to send their staff home to work remotely as well. This is to continue and the likelihood is that applications will be adjourned rather than more remote hearings.

There are clearly significant operational issues that come about whilst premises are still open. It is critical that the licensing objectives are promoted by operators who choose to stay open and conditions on premises licences will need to be complied with. If anyone has any confusion of where we are on this then please contact us directly by mobile number or email.

In addition, the Business Crime Hub from the Metropolitan Police Service have sent out a very helpful note in relation to their position moving through unprecedented times.

Our colleagues in Scotland have been grappling with the issues as well and Glasgow City Council have sent out a very clear “advice and guidance for current licence holders and new applicants on changes to our licensing service.” This is to last for the period of Covid-19 outbreak.

This highlights that there are to be no face to face appointments. All planned meetings with the licensing and regulatory committee and the City of Glasgow Licensing Board have been postponed.

In addition, they are asking that only the most essential applications are submitted and if they are submitted, they should be sent by electronic means rather than paper work.

Glasgow have moved very quickly to set out a very clear guidance document which can be found at the following link –  We understand that most other Scottish Licensing Boards are offering similar advice to clients.

The Gambling Commission is sending out regular notifications as to their expectations during these testing times.

In the most recent email sent yesterday, the Commission highlighted that they are following Public Health England’s Guidance and have told all staff to work from home until further notice. They have set out that the Commission has set out a well-practiced and comprehensive business continuity plan that they have invoked with the intention of minimising the impact on their regulatory and advice services.

The Gambling Commission have highlighted that whilst these current circumstances create unprecedented changes to daily life, that these changes will also increase the risks to some individuals which mean that despite the fact that these are changing times, customers must be protected by operators.

They set out “first and foremost we expect all our licensees to follow the applicable Public Health guidance, which I am confident you will already be doing. Where facilities for Gambling are being offered, we expect all our licensees to ensure that they have sufficient management, staffing and an oversight in place to maintain compliance with the LCCP that apply to their licences.

The social distancing measures that are being put in place will mean that more people will be at home and we would like to remind online operators that they must continue to act responsibly, especially in regard to individual customer affordability and increase social responsibility interactions.” – Neil McArthur. This is a clear message that the Gambling Commission expects licensed operators to be increasing their social responsibility principles during this period. In addition, the Gambling Commission have written to us directly to ask that we do not send any documents by post. All documents to be received are expected to be scanned and sent electronically.

They are currently deciding how to proceed with personal licences, usually they require an original identification to be provided but are going to be determining how to deal with this during the currency of the outbreak.

It is clear that the Gambling Commission is seeking to provide a service as close to normal working life as possible.

The taxi licensing sector is going to be seriously affected through the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Government guidance is that no driver should be working if they have a new continuous cough and/or high fever and should obviously at that point self-isolate.

Drivers of Hackney Carriage or private hire vehicles, Hackney Carriage and private hire proprietors and private hire operators have responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to both themselves and those who are likely to come into contact with their business.

We would hope to see that taxi licensees are frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly.

They will have been reminded of the following document –

We are certain that taxi’s will continue to play a vital role in the movement of people through these difficult times.

It is now becoming clear that we are going to be in a protracted period of different working practices. We hope that everyone will look to make the licensing process and regulatory remit as user-friendly as possible during this period. I have had a significant number of messages from operators asking how our team is and the element of interaction has been high. This is at a time when their own businesses are closing for public safety reasons.

Having being in the leisure sector for over 30 years, I can attest to the fact that they are a resilient bunch. It’s now imperative that the Government give significant financial support so that these businesses, viable until the outbreak of the Coronavirus, have the ability to come through the other side and provide the much needed distractions that we will all be looking forward to by then. The measures so far announced don’t go far enough and it is hoped that the Councillor will be making more practical announcements later today which can come into effect very quickly. A significant number of my clients have been posting that they are now closing voluntarily until we are through the worse of the virus. These are fabulous responsible operators, viable businesses, who deserve to be supported by central Government.