Revealed: Health and Safety inspectors rate Southwark businesses ‘Covid secure’ – without visiting them

Josh Salisbury (25 November, 2020)

Health and safety inspectors have rated thousands of businesses 'Covid secure' without visiting them all

40727The HSE says it relies on phone interviews instead

Health and safety inspectors have rated thousands of businesses nationally as “Covid secure” – without visiting them, including in Southwark.

According to data obtained exclusively by the News, inspectors at the Health and Safety Executive carried out 78 unannounced spot checks in Southwark from July to November.

But many of these surprise checks did not involve a visit to the premises to check whether a business was actually following Covid rules.

Only 24 of the 78 spot checks involved a physical visit from an inspector, with the other businesses being ‘inspected’ over the phone.

In total, 73 spot checks were said to be Covid compliant, and needing no further action – despite many of those premises not being visited.

The HSE said it would only visit a business if they had concerns after carrying out an “in depth” phone interview.

Thousands of businesses nationally have been rated Covid secure without a visit, the data also reveals.

Since April, when the campaign started, 40,511 checks returned a result of “Covid compliant” or no further action needed.

But during the same time, inspectors only made 11,527 site visits, instead relying on phone methods.

“At this first point of contact, if HSE establishes that the business has appropriate COVID-secure measures in place, no further action is taken,” said a HSE spokesperson.

“Where the initial call raises concerns that a business or organisation is not following COVID-secure guidance, a further intervention will be necessary.

“This involves an in-depth interview by experienced HSE staff over the phone.”

It is only then that a visit may take place.

“HSE inspectors are experienced at applying professional judgement and discretion and will seek to take a proportionate approach to their spot check inspections, focussing on what is reasonable and achievable in an evolving situation,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“HSE assures the spot check process in two ways: the information and data given is analysed and HSE inspectors conduct random assurance inspections to ratify the information given on the call.”

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