Occupations with highest coronavirus risk - Kirsty Churm quoted in HR Grapevine

11 February 2021

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed the occupations suffering the highest number of deaths involving coronavirus. The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the importance of health and safety measures in the workplace. As such, this has been a top priority for HR and employers. Kirsty Churm, Senior Associate in the Employment team discussed with HR Grapevine the duty that every employer has to take reasonable care of the health and safety of staff members and to maintain a safe working environment.

Kirsty quoted:

The legal expert explained: “This duty arises both under the common law and statute (the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974). Employers must also ‘provide and monitor... so far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment which is reasonably suitable for the performance by [the employees] of their contractual duties’. This includes training and instructing employees on how to deal with the risks it has identified.”

Prior to the pandemic, Churm said that for many organisations health and safety could have been viewed as one of the more straightforward aspects of compliance, yet in light of the coronavirus crisis, she said that this is no longer the case.

“Many workplaces and roles were simply not designed with social distancing and other public health measures in mind. 

“Ensuring compliance and protecting staff is often complicated, and may involve investment, creativity or a trade-off with efficiency.

“However, employers have a legal obligation to do whatever is reasonably practicable to protect employees and others from harm, and control any risks to health in the workplace,” the legal expert added.

This article was first published in HR Grapevine. You can read the article in full by clicking here (registration is required).

Further information

If you would like any further information or advice about the issues explored in this blog, please contact Kirsty Churm or another member of our employment team.


About the author

Kirsty Churm is a Senior Associate in the Employment Department.  She advises both employers and senior employees on all aspects of employment law and employee relations issues, including contentious and non-contentious matters.


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