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April 5, 2021

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Quarter of employers not implementing social distancing in the workplace, and few people with symptoms are self-isolating, says research

Data from two separate studies have shown that there are still many businesses which are not sufficiently implement physical distancing between colleagues, and fewer than one in five people request a COVID-19 test if they have symptoms.

coronavirus social distancingIn a poll of 2,100 workplace safety representatives, conducted by the TUC, 25% said their workplace did not always implement physical distancing between colleagues, either through social distancing or with physical barriers.

Similarly, a fifth (22%) said their workplace did not always implement appropriate physical distancing between employees and customers, patients or clients, while more than a third (35%) said adequate personal protective equipment wasn’t always provided.

The research also found one in 10 (9%) safety reps said their employer had not conducted a risk assessment in their workplace in the last two years, while another 17% said they were not aware of a risk assessment in their workplace in the last two years despite a legal requirement to consult them.

Of those who said their employers had carried out a risk assessment, almost a quarter (23%) reported they felt it was inadequate.

This is despite more than three-quarters of respondents (83%) reporting that employees had tested positive for COVID in their workplace and more than half (57%) said their workplaces had seen a significant number of cases.

In addition, two-thirds (65%) of safety representatives said they were dealing with an increased number of mental health concerns since the pandemic began, with three-quarters (76%) citing stress as a workplace hazard.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said too many workplaces were not COVID-secure and this was a “big worry” for people expecting to return to work. “We must have robust health and safety in place to reduce the risk of infections rising again when workplaces reopen,” she said.

“Everyone has the right to be safe at work. The government must take safety representatives’ warnings seriously. Ministers must tell the health and safety executive to crack down on bad bosses who risk workers’ safety. And they must provide funding to get more inspectors into workplaces to make sure employers follow the rules.”


 In a separate report, conducted by the British Medical Journal, it has been highlighted that fewer than one in five people request a COVID-19 test if they have symptoms, the number who follow full self-isolation rules is low, and only half of people knew the main COVID-19 symptoms.

The findings are based on 74,697 responses to online surveys from 53,880 people aged 16 or older living in the UK.

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