The Health and Safety Executive is upping the number of Covid spot checks in areas where cases of the new coronavirus variant are spreading.

Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety started the surge in spot checking this week and will be targeting the following areas: Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Burnley, Chorley, Hyndburn, Manchester, Pendle and Preston.

This is in addition to the spot checks and inspections already being carried out as the country continues on the path out of lockdown and more businesses open-up.

The HSE will carry out the spot checks by calling businesses to check they have Covid-secure measures in place to manage the risk of coronavirus to keep workers, visitors and customers safe.

During the calls, HSE looks to work with businesses and provide guidance and advice where required but, where businesses aren’t managing the risk, action will be taken.

This can range from the provision of specific advice, issuing enforcement notices and stopping certain work practices until they are made safe.

Where businesses fail to comply, this could lead to prosecution.

Blackburn town centre

Blackburn town centre

Director of transformation and operational services at HSE, Angela Storey, said: “HSE is focussing spot checks in areas where transmission rates for the new variant of concern are rising.

"This is to help the national effort to combat the recent rise in cases and to stop it from spreading further.

“We are carrying out this focussed approach to check businesses have Covid-secure measures in place that are in accordance with government guidance.

“It is really important to ensure your business has Covid-secure measures in place to stop workplace transmission of the virus and keep workers safe.

"It will also help to keep businesses operating and will benefit the local economy.”

The Covid-secure measures businesses should have in place include:

• Risk assessment: every workplace should have a Covid risk assessment. Update it to reflect any changes in legislation or guidance that may impact your work activity.

• Social distancing: where possible you should keep people two metres apart. If this is not viable, keeping one metre apart with risk mitigation, such as screens, is acceptable.

• Cleaning, hygiene and handwashing: keeping your workplace clean reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread. It is a critical part of making and keeping your business Covid-secure.

• Ventilation and air conditioning: can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

• Talk to workers: provide information about support and maintaining control measures.

• Working from home: provide the equipment they need, keep in regular contact and discuss their wellbeing.

• Vulnerable workers: talk to staff, provide information and consider the risk to workers who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus – putting controls in place to reduce that risk.

Please ensure your workplace is safe by following the guidance on being Covid-secure.

Further information on spot checks is available on the HSE website.