COUNCIL inspectors are to start visiting firms where staff believe the bosses are flouting coronavirus guidelines.

The move follows complaints that some companies staying open during the Covid-19 outbreak are putting employees at risk.

Now Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Public Protection team is to inspect businesses still operating where concerns about social distancing and staff protection have been reported.

The will initially advise bosses how to comply with government guidelines on staff safety but will report repeat offenders to the government’s Health and Safety Executive for enforcement action.

The Lancashire Telegraph has received a number of complaints from workers concerned about social distancing arrangements including at Crown Paints in Darwen, Senator in Altham, BT in Blackburn and Boohoo in Burnley. Bosses at all four firms said they scrupulously followed government guidelines,

Businesses staying open with staff on the premises need to provide handwashing facilities or sanitiser and ensure staff to stay two metres apart wherever possible.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s environment boss Cllr Jim Smith said: “We have had a fair few complaints that a small number of premises may not be following social distancing guidelines.

“We shall be checking that they are following government guidelines.”

His move has been backed by borough council Conservative group leader Cllr John Slater and Miranda Barker, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

Cllr Smith said: “Some of these complaints are highlighting really worrying behaviour. Some of this may be a misunderstanding of the guidelines but everyone needs to work out how to do this.

“It would be completely irresponsible for any business to make their employees work under these conditions during the current coronavirus crisis. Health and safety is more crucial than ever.

“Our public protection team will be following up the reports and visiting businesses to make sure the guidelines are being followed and that staff are not being put at risk.

“They will be offering advice and guidance but remind firms there are health and safety laws. If we find repeat and persistent offenders ignoring the guidelines, we will refer them to the HSE for enforcement action.”

Miss Barker said: “This is appropriate as long as we are talking about advice on how to do the right thing. There is still some confusion.”

Cllr Slater said: This is the right thing to do offering firms guidance and taking enforcement action against those who repeatedly fail to follow it.”

Darwen East Liberal Democrat Cllr Roy Davies said: “I fully support this action by the council.”

Cllr Smith said:“The health of people living and working in the borough is the most important issue here. There are very clear rules on social distancing and rules on keeping everyone as safe as possible.”