The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is working with local authorities to carry out inspections of commercial fleet operators in the run-up to Christmas.
They will be checking businesses are managing the risk of coronavirus, with the demand for online shopping increasing.
Harvey Wild, head of HSE’s transport and public services unit, said: “The logistics and distribution industry overall has seen a significant increase in business activity over the past few months and, with shops and retail centres closed, there will be a surge in online shopping in the run up to the festive period.
“As a result of this, we will see an increase in the number of agency and temporary workers in the transport and logistics sector to meet the demand. It’s important that all workers and also customers feel confident that measures are being taken to protect them from Covid-19.”
The HSE inspectors along with local authority officers say they will be visiting warehouses and distribution centres across the country to make sure workplaces are Covid-secure and following the relevant guidance.
"Employers have a legal duty to protect workers and others from harm," Harvey Wild, HSE
The HSE says it is looking to work with employers, but where it finds they are not managing the risk, HSE and local authority officers will take action.
This can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices and stopping certain work practices until they are made safe. Where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.
Wild explained: “Employers have a legal duty to protect workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk and protect people from coronavirus.”
Businesses need to put in place workplace controls such as social distancing and cleaning arrangements to manage the risk and protect workers and others from coronavirus to be Covid-secure.
They will be making sure that businesses have suitable toilet and handwashing facilities for all workers, including visiting drivers. They will also check other health and safety matters if required.
HSE provides a range of advice and guidance to support businesses, this includes:
- Making your workplace Covid-secure
- Driver welfare
- Social distancing – a step-by-step guide
- Risk assessment
- Vehicles at work
Information from the visits will be shared to promote good practice and assist the industry in meeting the combined challenges of Covid and the seasonal surge in demand, says the HSE.
Wild concluded: “We encourage businesses to consult with their workers on the changes they put in place to become Covid-secure. This is to provide reassurance for workers and to also increase confidence in customers and the local community.
“Becoming Covid-secure not only benefits the health of our communities and vital businesses, it also good for the health of the UK economy.”
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety.