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Supply Chains: How to Make Them COVID-19 Secure

28 August 2020

DESPITE THE easing of some of the restrictions around the Coronavirus, there remains a strong emphasis on keeping workplaces COVID-19 secure, with companies who fail to comply facing criminal prosecution. Ian McKinnon discusses what this means for employers and explains what can be done to promote compliance throughout the supply chain.

As more sectors return to work, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been reminding employers of their Duty of Care to protect workers and others from harm by ensuring that workplaces are COVID-19 secure. This includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk of the Coronavirus spreading and protecting people in the form of a COVID-19 risk assessment.

To this end, the HSE is presently undertaking spot checks to assess compliance and has made it perfectly clear that it will not hesitate to take action where employers are failing to meet their obligations.

There are three key actions which employers must take to help ensure workplaces are COVID-19 secure. These include carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment in consultation with workers or their Trade Union, sharing this risk assessment with staff (and online for organisations with over 50 employees on the books) and displaying a notice to confirm they have indeed complied with government guidance.

It’s also important for organisations to monitor any measures that have been put in place to ensure they’re working as expected.

To help employers complete their COVID-19 risk assessments, the HSE has created a guide in terms of what to include. Employers should also refer to sector-specific guidance which, in the construction industry for example, includes Government guidelines for the sector, along with the Site Operating Procedures (SOP): Protecting Your Workforce During Coronavirus (COVID-19) issued by the Construction Leadership Council.

Verifying the supply chain

For sectors like the construction industry, where there are often multiple contractors working on a single site, the challenge is for site operators to be able to quickly and easily identify that everyone on site understands and is wholly committed to following COVID-19 secure guidelines.

Consequently, construction clients are looking for evidence that their contractors are operating in line with industry guidance. That being so, CHAS (The Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme) has added a Statement of Best Practice (COVID-19) to its member packages to make it quick and easy for contractors to demonstrate that they’re working towards being COVID-19 secure and to help the industry to freely access COVID-19 secure contractors.

To complete the statement of Best Practice, contractors must confirm and, where appropriate, provide evidence that they’ve taken the three key actions mentioned earlier. 

Filling out the Statement of Best Practice (COVID-19) is completely free and contractors simply need to login to the contractor portal and upload and submit evidence to show they meet the requirements. When CHAS clients log on to the CHAS Client Portal they can then instantly see whether a contractor has completed their Statement of Best Practice (COVID-19).

For those organisations not already clients of CHAS, it’s quick, easy and completely free to register and includes a range of business benefits, from the ability to easily source contractors by trade and region from a database of over 30,000 qualified contractors through to the availability of dedicated business services.

Looking for reassurance

It’s recognised that organisations are looking for reassurance that everyone within their supply chain is operating to the required COVID-19 secure standards, but we also know it’s extremely difficult for organisations to perform these checks independently, and particularly so while they’re running with reduced staff numbers.

The Statement of Best Practice (COVID-19) makes it easy for CHAS contractors to qualify for work, while giving CHAS clients immediate visibility of a contractor’s COVID-19 secure status.

CHAS has also extended its CHAS People worker verification tool to include a Health Wallet so that the industry can track worker’s symptoms and upload COVID-19 antigen or antibody test results to track their fitness to work if and when this is required.

Ian McKinnon is Managing Director of CHAS

*For further information access https://www.chas.co.uk/