North Devon Council is working with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to make sure businesses in North Devon are COVID-secure to help prevent and tackle coronavirus (COVID-19) in the district.

From Monday (12 October) officers from the HSE will be contacting local businesses by telephone to find out what measures they have in place to make sure they are COVID-secure. During the checks, advice and guidance will be provided to manage risk and protect workers, customers and visitors. Where some businesses are found not managing this, immediate action will be taken. Action can range from the providing specific advice, issuing enforcement notices, stopping certain work practices until they are made safe and, where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.

Being COVID-secure means that businesses need to put adjustments in place to manage the risk and protect workers and others from coronavirus. More information about how to manage the risk of coronavirus in different business sectors can be found in the 'working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)' section of the government website.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: "We are talking to local businesses and inspecting sites in and around North Devon to understand how they are managing risks in line with their specific business activity.

“Being COVID-secure needs to be the priority for all businesses in North Devon; it is a legal duty for businesses to protect their workers and others from harm and this includes taking reasonable steps to control the risk and protect people from coronavirus. This means making business adjustments to become COVID-secure. We advise employers to work with their employees when implementing changes, to help increase confidence with workers, customers and the local community.”

Head of Environmental Health at North Devon Council, Jeremy Mann, says: “All businesses are in scope for spot checks which means businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced check to ensure they are COVID-secure. By making sure that businesses have measures in place to manage the risks, we can benefit the health of the local community as well as support the local and national UK economy.”

HSE and local authority inspectors are finding some common issues across a range of sectors including failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing, and failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime particularly at busy times of the day.

As well as carrying out checks and providing advice and support, the council and HSE are working alongside local public health authorities to support the understanding of any patterns in confirmed coronavirus cases in the area.

For the latest information and safer business guidance, see www.gov.uk. There is also lots of helpful advice and information about business support for North Devon businesses on the council's website www.northdevon.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support