Co-operative Alliance Council Leaders on Lewes District Council have called for workplaces to have a certified and published plan for Covid-safety to be in place before employees are required to return to work. Following the Prime Minister’s call for a return to work, council leaders are clear that the return should not resemble the haphazard process for locking down workplaces that left many workers feeling confused and fearful.
Zoe Nicholson, Green Party Councillor and Leader of Lewes District Council said:
‘We must ensure that employers, the Health and Safety Executive, environmental health teams and trade unions work together to ensure workplace safety and to give employees the confidence to return to work. Covid-safety plans should be drawn up by each employer for each of their workplaces; these would need to be signed off by local environmental health officers together with trade union health & safety reps where the workplace has a recognised union. Environmental health officers should be resourced properly to conduct spot-check monitoring visits to local workplaces to ensure that the plan is being followed.
With the lifting of some of the restrictions we need government to financially support councils to make sure that we can play our role in making work places safe.’
Councillor Chris Collier, Leader of Labour Group and Peacehaven ward councillor said:
‘I would like to thank all those who have stayed at their posts in spite of risk to their own lives and in the knowledge that their places of work could never be made entirely safe. These include health and care workers but also those in the food supply chain, the delivery process, and who provide community services and to the employers that have made this happen. As more people return to work, industrial sectors can learn from the expertise developed in these front-line workplaces.’
The government can stage as many confusing press conferences as they like, but their ever-changing guidance doesn’t trump the Health and Safety at Work Act. Employees have the means to contest the adequacy and or suitability of safety arrangements without fear of recriminations. They have the right to withdraw from and to refuse to return to a workplace that is unsafe”