TUC calls for fresh approach to safety rules
By Rob Freeman | 7th January 2021
The TUC has urged the Government to update workplace safety rules to protect essential workers and people who cannot work from home.
Since the rules were published at the start of the pandemic in March, understanding of how the virus spreads has grown while fresh strains have proved more transmissible.
The TUC is calling on the Government to update guidance to:
- Reduce the number of people permitted in a space at any one time, to aid ventilation and social distancing.
- Require face coverings in all indoor workplaces, except for exempt workers.
- Return to two metre social distancing wherever possible to remove confusion.
- Require any work activity be completed outside if it can be done safely.
- Set a safety threshold for ventilation of indoor workplaces with outside air.
- Update guidance on workplace face coverings to the World Health Organisation standard of three protective layers.
- Expand the number of jobs where workers should use FFP3 face masks, removing 99 per cent of particles, and ensure enough are available.
The union body is also calling on the government to redouble efforts to enforce Covid-19 safety measures to avoid employers cutting corners.
General secretary Frances O'Grady said: "With new strains of coronavirus spreading like wildfire, workplace safety rules must catch up.
"Airborne transmission is the biggest danger. But little has been done to update safety rules in response. Too many workers are still in indoor spaces without adequate ventilation, or proper social distancing from other staff or customers.
"The Government must update the rules on ventilation, masks, limits on numbers and social distancing in workplaces. Nobody should be put at unnecessary risk because safety policy is behind the science, and unfit to cope with new Covid-19 strains."
She continued: "Unions hear daily from workers whose employers are putting them at risk, but there have been far too few inspections and too little enforcement."
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