The campaign to beat the pandemic

Comment Covid safety in the workplace

10 November 2020 / Janet Newsham

The National Hazards Campaign has endorsed the call for action to force the Tory Government to adopt a Zero Covid strategy to suppress the virus to save lives and livelihoods. Throughout the pandemic the Hazards Campaign has argued that unsafe workplaces are infecting workers who then transmit it on to families and communities driving up the overall infection rates.

The Tory Government continues to focus on demonising individuals, ignoring the role of the workplace as a source of infection and transmission and failing to enforce health and safety law that should ensure employers in every setting are controlling the risks. 

Tory Government failure to protect workers has also failed to protect communities.


There is a recurring narrative by politicians and the media, that the transmissions of Covid-19, is fuelled by misbehaving families and students shirking their responsibilities to our communities. This ignores the evidence that workplaces are the major sites of infection and transmission, amongst which are thousands of schools that have had to ask children and staff to isolate. Deaths and infections of workers in working environments where the risks weren’t controlled are being ignored.

We are continually bombarded with images of students partying, families hugging and kissing but when there is an outbreak in a workplace it is said to be the workers’ fault because they shared cars or they celebrated together. Individuals are scapegoated rather than the workplaces that are the cause.

The media’s images of young people in bars, restaurants, in clubs and in gyms weren’t intended to show the absurdity of opening up these venues or the transmission risks of being indoors without adequate ventilation or a lack of public awareness of aerosol risks, but to add to the narrative that out of control young people were spreading the virus.

Legal responsibility

Schools, colleges, universities, sandwich bars, fast food outlets, buses, and trains are all workplaces. Workplaces with employers who have a legal responsibility to control the risks to their employees and anyone else who comes into their working environment. If people have contracted the virus on their premises or as part of their work activities then the employer has not carried out their duty to measure and  control the risks.

The Hazards Campaign are clear about the steps necessary to halt the exponential spread of the virus. 

There should be no return to workplaces, no opening up of workplaces, no workplaces operating where the risks aren’t being controlled and this should be certified by our enforcement authorities who have the regulatory powers to inspect and serve enforcement notices on employers who aren’t carrying out their duties. But this will take more resources, and it needs Governments that are determined to stop the transmission of the virus and follow a strategy of Zero Covid.

This video produced by Reel News explores the shocking lack of safety measures in some workplaces

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons 4.0 License.

Skip to content