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There are certain key updates from the HSE at this unprecedented time:
  1. RIDDOR- A report regarding coronavirus need only be made under RIDDOR in the following circumstances:
 
  1. An unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
  2. A worker has been diagnosed as having the virus and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
 
  1. Home Working- Many more people are now working from home due to the lockdown. A risk assessment for home working will be required and employers should be aware that they have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as any other worker.
 
  1. Road Transport-There are two major health and safety issues relating to coronavirus for this vital industry. Firstly, drivers must have access to welfare facilities and it will not be lawful for customers to deny them access. Secondly, the driver’s hours rules have been temporarily relaxed to ensure key supplies are maintained. More about the latter tomorrow.
 
  1. HSE approach- The HSE has not stopped working. Its staff remain contactable and will continue to engage with stakeholders. It has said that it will take a flexible and proportionate account of the risks of the pandemic. It will suspend some targeted inspection activity, and will keep regulatory activity not requiring site visits as normal as possible. It will continue t investigate work related deaths, the most serious incidents and reported concerns. It will still take action to ensure compliance with the law, and while it will work remotely as much as possible, it will mobilise to site where necessary.
 
  1. First aid cover and qualifications- Adequate first aid cover will still need to be maintained in the workplace. Reduced cover may be appropriate with more workers working from home. Sharing first aid cover with another business is a possibility, and provision has been made for first aid certificate extensions and interrupted first aid training.
 
Much more information is available on HSE and local authority websites. If you are unclear about your health and safety responsibilities at this very difficult time and require advice on any health and safety related issue and/or interpretation of the above, contact Edmund Conybeare on 07739 463571 or at edmund.conybeare@legalstudio.co.uk.
 

 
2020 39 08
Edmund Conybeare
In the current crisis, the government have relaxed the driver’s hours rules in certain circumstances. These rules are in place to protect road safety, safeguard working conditions for drivers, and reduce the risk of drivers being involved in fatigue related accidents.

Currently, the EU drivers’ hours rules have been relaxed until the 21st of April 2020 for carriage of goods by road. No further extension has been currently granted and operators should keep a close eye on developments. The following relaxations of the rules are designed to help with the supply of vital goods such as food and medicines during the current outbreak and should be used only where absolutely necessary:
  1. EU daily driving limit extended from 9 to 11 hours.
  2. Reduction of daily rest requirement from 11 to 9 hours.
  3. Lifting the weekly and fortnightly driving limits from 56 and 90 hours respectively, to 60 and 96 hours.
  4. Postponement of the requirement to start a weekly rest period from 6 to 7 twenty-four hour periods. Two regular weekly rest periods or a regular and reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight.
  5. Daily breaks of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours driving are extended to the same break after 5.5 hours of driving.
  6. Drivers using 2.  above can still interrupt their daily rest by up to an hour to embark or disembark from a train or ferry.
  7. Relaxations 1.  and 4.  above cannot be used at the same time.
The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys but be warned, as stated above, their use must be deemed ‘necessary’ in the context of the current outbreak. Tacho charts/printouts must be endorsed by the driver in the usual way applicable to emergencies to explain the reason for exceeding the usual legal limits. And be warned, the DVSA are likely to crack down heavily on operators taking unlawful advantage of these relaxations.

All this may seem very technical, and comes from a former DVSA/VOSA prosecutor, but is vital information for transport operators, and offers considerable opportunity for those involved in supply chain management and customers involved in the supply of key goods.

We will keep you updated with any changes in the legal position. For further guidance, ring Edmund Conybeare on 07739 463571 or email him at edmund.conybeare@legalstudio.co.uk
 
2020 39 08
Edmund Conybeare
What can and can’t you do during the current pandemic? The basic law is that you cannot leave your home without ‘reasonable excuse.’ But what is a ‘reasonable excuse’? The following are reasonable excuses:
  1. Shopping for basic necessities such as food or medicine.
  2. To take exercise. In Wales this is once a day by law, but in the remainder of the UK it remains only a guideline, and to do so more often might be inadvisable but is not illegal.
  3. Seeking medical assistance or to escape a risk of harm. This is particularly important for those in danger of domestic violence.
  4. Providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person, providing emergency assistance, or donating blood.
  5. Travelling to work or to carry out voluntary services when it’s impossible to do so from home.
  6. Attending the funeral of a member of your household, a close family member (or in specific circumstances, a friend).
  7. Fulfilling legal obligations eg attending court or participating in legal proceedings.
  8. Accessing critical public services including childcare or education, social services or victim support.
  9. Allowing children of separated parents to move between both households.
When outside home, a safe distance of 2m should be kept from anyone not a member of the household.
If the police believe the rules have been broken, or their instructions refused, they can issue a fine of £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days). The fine doubles on each repeat offence. However, we are told they will apply their ‘discretion and common sense,’ in applying the restrictions. Quite what this means in policing terms is anyone’s guess. The attempt by British Transport Police to secure a conviction under the Coronavirus Act against a lady found loitering at a train station but not suspected of having the virus raises serious concerns about how these powers will be used.

It should be noted that local authorities eg trading standards officers will also be responsible for compliance and businesses failing to shut down as set out in the list on the government website under ‘Closing certain businesses and venues,’ will be subject to fines and potential closure.
All gatherings of more than two people have been banned save for those who live together, or the gathering is essential for work purposes.

All weddings, baptisms and religious ceremonies have been halted, apart from funerals, but see above for the restrictions on the latter.
 
If you or your business needs advice about any of the coronavirus restrictions, contact Edmund Conybeare at Legal Studio, edmund.conybeare@legalstudio.co.uk or on 07739 463571.
 
2020 56 07
Edmund Conybeare