Follow the rules
18 January 2021
To reduce the spread of coronavirus, people have been asked to stay at home wherever possible and to avoid unnecessary social contact. But there is much debate about whether the rules are being followed as closely as in the previous lockdowns.
Perhaps the question could also be asked of businesses. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some hirers and suppliers are proving more scrupulous than others in implementing Covid-19 control measures regarding their staff, customers and equipment.
Between 6 and 14 January, the Health and Safety Executive received 2,945 complaints about safety issues.
One award-winning hirer who is striving to follow the guidance as strictly as during the first lockdown is concerned that some others are not.
“We have put disinfectant fogging machines in place, we treat equipment after every hire, we carefully put labels identifying sanitised items to reassure customers – all the proper things that you should do, or how you would want things done yourself.
“We’ve had screens up in our offices since March, we clean door handles and surfaces several times a day, we wear masks and gloves, use hand sanitiser and have safety signs in place – everything. We’ve adapted our employees' schedules so they have staggered start times and different break periods for social distancing. It’s essential and we are absorbing the cost.
“But we have heard that some companies are not doing things so thoroughly, which is all very well until something happens like an outbreak of the virus. Then it will all come back to haunt them.
“I know this because one of our people left to join another hirer in November and he’s just asked me for his job back. He’s worried for his health. This other firm is not cleaning or sanitising machines or valeting the cabs. There is no signage relating to Covid protection measures and he felt it was like working in a ticking time bomb.”
Perhaps the temporary easing of restrictions over the festive period led to a false sense of security. In challenging times it is tempting to reduce some service elements and costs to win or retain business, but Health & Safety is sacrosanct.
So follow the rules. Tell your customers what you are doing to protect them and the extra costs it involves. They should appreciate it and reward your efforts.
Otherwise, there might be implications. A no-win no-fee solicitor recently said: “We have been contacted by a number of employees who feel they have been completely let down by their employers during the crisis and relatively simple measures to keep them safe from Covid-19 have not been taken.”
Admittedly they were referring to care workers who had approached them, but employees in other industries might well have similar concerns. Indeed, in the US, interest seems to be broader and more complex.
An article in The Wall Street Journal last week reported that the American Civil Liberties Union has described temperature checks on staff and customers as potentially infringing civil-rights laws: they argue that some contagious people don’t have a fever, while some who are running a fever don’t have Covid.
Yet conversely, another commentator suggests that, “If a customer believes he caught the virus on the premises, his lawyer will be glad to seize on testimony that you didn’t use temperature guns and let some visitors run around without masks.”
Nevertheless, we must all strive to do the right thing and follow the rules.
Photo: Sumanley xulx/Pixabay