Majority of HSE spot checks likely to be done by phone

18 May 2020

Despite promises from the government of spot checks in every workplace to ensure safety, the Health and Safety Executive is not actually able currently to carry out physical checks.

HSE paused physical checks in March and hasn’t restarted them as it can’t guarantee the safety of its own staff. There is also a huge funding shortage due to a decade of cuts meaning HSE is short-staffed.

As a result it is thought that many spot checks will take place over the phone.

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said:

“Last week the government said that HSE would be conducting spot checks on businesses before they reopen for business. It seems that it neglected to check if HSE would actually be able to visit businesses while keeping its own workers safe.

“Prospect members in HSE, who have been working throughout this crisis, have indicated that initially the majority of spot checks will be done via telephone rather than visit which raises questions as to their effectiveness.

“Ten years of cuts to HSE have left it in the position that it doesn’t have enough inspectors to effectively police health and safety standards across the entire economy. The additional funding announced last week will be largely spent on call centres and will have no impact on the numbers of qualified inspectors.

“It increasingly looks like the government wishes to get people back to work while appearing to take their safety seriously but without actually doing anything about it.”