Regulating occupational health and safety during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

HSE has continued to regulate on health and safety throughout the pandemic. We continue to support the response to coronavirus (COVID-19) by the UK government, devolved administrations and business.

Our activities will continue to be guided by the requirements of the sectors we regulate as well as advice from the UK government and public health bodies.

HSE will continue to work safely in line with this advice.  

HSE’s role in supporting businesses to protect people

Employers must continue to comply with health and safety at work laws. This includes updating their risk assessment to protect workers and others from the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.

HSE will:

  • help businesses in Great Britain work safely by providing advice and guidance  
  • check that appropriate workplace measures are in place to protect workers from transmission of COVID-19
  • proactively inspect high risk industries
  • inspect critical areas and activities in major hazard offshore oil and gas and the onshore chemical, explosives and microbiological industries
  • investigate work-related deaths, serious major injuries, dangerous occurrences and reported concerns across all industry sectors. This includes those related to COVID-19
  • regulate how employers meet their responsibilities as the pandemic continues

HSE’s role in test and trace

A public health body in Great Britain may declare a workplace outbreak at any time.

If this happens, HSE will consider how it can support a public health assessment of the part any workplace has played in the transmission of COVID-19 in line with our guide for public health bodies on HSE’s role in outbreaks.

As part of this work, HSE will usually inspect:

  • any COVID-19 transmission risk controls in the workplace
  • how a business has implemented their COVID-19 risk controls

If we identify a need to improve risk controls we'll consider action in line with our enforcement policy.

A public health body in Great Britain may also identify levels of concern in local community infection rates. If this happens, we will work to understand whether workplaces in that community are contributing to COVID-19 transmission levels.

We would also do this, for example, if a community has to use local restrictions where cases are rising. However, HSE plays no role in arrangements for testing or contact tracing.

It’s not, for example, HSE’s responsibility to require workers to take part in the testing scheme or to isolate following a positive test.

You can find advice from public health bodies and other government departments on control measures that are not implemented by the Health and Safety executive including vaccination and testing.

Page last reviewed: 19 January 2022

Next review due: 30 January 2022