How to keep your workplace safe and legal during the pandemic

How to keep your workplace safe and legal during the pandemic

ARTICLE · By TTF · 9 June 2020

With the timber industry returning to work after two months of lockdown, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released guidance for businesses on how to meet their legal obligations during the pandemic.

The HSE’s guidance is intended to ensure that work plant and equipment remain safe to use and provides a framework for decision-making if thorough examination and testing requirements cannot be met, this encompasses equipment covered by the safety regulations which require statutory examination and testing.

This is because it may be difficult to complete thorough examination and testing within the required time due to a backlog of inspections, unavailability of staff and contractors to adequately prepare complex pressure systems for the relevant statutory examination; and the possibility of engineers or dutyholders refusing to enter premises to carry out the testing.

The health and safety regulations that require statutory examination and testing are:

• The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER); This includes members that have forklifts, cranes and other lifting equipment.

  • The Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR); This includes boilers or kilns using steam and members that have treatment plants.
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWER) (including power presses); This includes processing and automatic handling equipment in sawmills.
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) (for local exhaust ventilation (LEV); This includes wood processing machinery and the local exhaust ventilation, which is essential to controlling wood dust.
  • The Electricity at Work Regulations (EWR). This is mandatory for all companies as they need annual inspections for portable equipment.


Dutyholders are expected to try and arrange for inspection to take place within the statutory time limits and should work together with the inspection bodies to organise a suitable and safe inspection. Before an inspection takes place, the equipment must be suitably cleaned, prepared, and made ready for inspection. Give inspection bodies access to equipment in a timely manner and for LEV systems, the examination may have to take place before any work begins.

However, if the inspection is unable to take place, the dutyholder must have evidence that they have made reasonable attempts to have a thorough examination and testing carried out, obtained competent advice to produce a detailed assessments of any increased risks and have taken appropriate action to manage it. In terms of LEV, it is unlikely the system itself will present a safety risk if used beyond the examination and testing date.

For full details of the HSE guidance, please click here.