The assessment by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that Covid-19 in not a “serious” workplace risk has been described as “beyond belief” by Labour’s Shadow Employment Secretary Andy McDonald.

The UK safety regulator has three risk categories – serious, significant and minor.

In responding to a question on the Covid-19 ranking from Labour’s Shadow Employment Secretary Andy McDonald, Employment Minister Mims Davies, admitted in a written statement that: “The HSE has decided the category ‘significant’ in the EMM [Enforcement Management Model] table best supports inspectors in making sensible, proportionate regulatory decisions.

“The definition is that the effects are non-permanent or reversible, non-progressive and any disability is temporary. This definition refers to the likely response of the working population as a whole, not taking account of individuals with a particular resistance or susceptibility.”

The HSE received 134,000 complaints related to Covid concerns since the start of the pandemic, but issued just 192 enforcement notices and has taken no prosecutions to-date (as of mid-February 2021).

Commenting on Minister Davies’ response to his written question, Labour’s Andy McDonald (pictured below) said: “Given that almost 113,000 people have died from Covid-19 and as many as one in five people are suffering from the effects of ‘long Covid,’ it is beyond belief that the government does not consider the virus to be a serious risk to working people.”

McDonald added: “With workplace health and safety enforcement almost non-existent and after a decade of cuts that has left agencies under-resourced, the government must urgently re-categorise Covid-19 as a serious risk and bring in new safety rules and enforcement to protect workers’ lives.”