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Andy Haynes, H&S Advisor
5th September 2020

It seems appropriate to start this with the words of Douglas Adams. A few days ago, a government adviser told us that we were no more likely to contract Covid 19 than we are to be involved in a road accident. So that's alright then. Actually, seeing as it came from a government adviser perhaps they're really the words of Corporal Jones from Dad's Army, shouting loudly while first running in one direction and then back in the opposite direction.

I suppose we should be thankful that the Tories haven't decided to reform the traffic laws. Are we driving on the left or the right this week? Does a red light still mean stop? Who cares if they're doing something different in Scotland? Of course, a big difference is that if you have a minor bump in your car your parents aren't likely to end up in intensive care.

Actually, they do have a point. Currently the chance of coming into contact with the virus is quite low but, as with driving, that still means that you need to take precautions. I won't go through what the government say those precautions should be because by the time you read this they'll have changed again.

School managers should have been working hard on their risk assessments and other plans to make things as safe as possible. I know that many have done a very good job. Let's think of RAs as the highway code, because, like the highway code, they're no good if you haven't been given chance to read them. We also all know that there's a big difference between what the highway code says should happen and what really happens on the road. There's a real worry that this might be exactly the same for Covid 19 risk assessments. The important thing is what really happens in the day to day operation of the school.

• Is social distancing being maintained the way it's supposed to?
• Are the 'bubbles' being stuck to?
• Can students and workers wash or sanitise their hands properly and are they doing it?
• Is the ventilation adequate?
• Are surfaces being cleaned regularly to a satisfactory standard?

This is not supposed to be an exhaustive list and it's probable that issues will arise that no one has thought of, so another question is has the RA been reviewed regularly and the staff consulted about it?

Section 44 (1)(d) and (e) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 says that an employee may refuse to return to a place of work or take appropriate steps to protect themselves or others at work, if they can go on to establish that: (i) the danger is both serious and imminent; (ii) one which they could not reasonably be expected to avert and (iii) that their belief in that regard is both genuine and reasonable.

Hopefully it won't come to it, but should you have concerns that fit the situation described in the act please don't be afraid to use your rights.


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Coronavirus Update #2 (17th May 2020)
Coronavirus update #1 (23rd March 2020)
Leicester NEU office closed (23rd March 2020)
Coronavirus advice (20th March 2020)