Posted: Sat 16th Jan 2021

Strengthening of regulations to make stores in Wales as safe as possible welcomed by union

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Jan 16th, 2021

A shopworkers’ trade union has welcomed news that businesses in Wales will have to carry out a specific coronavirus risk assessment under new Welsh Government legislation

Udsaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) had been calling for improved safety measures in stores after being “inundated with complaints from members deeply concerned about their safety, as customers blatantly flout the rules.”

The risk assessments, announced on Friday, will be the “starting point for implementing the reasonable measures” that are required to be taken to minimise exposure to the coronavirus on premises open to the public and in workplaces.

This involves considering issues such as whether ventilation is adequate, hygiene, ensuring physical distancing is taking place and the use of PPE and face coverings.

It will also include considering how employers maximise the number of people who can work from home.

Nick Ireland, Usdaw divisional officer said: “We welcome that the Welsh Government is legislating for risk assessments to be reviewed and updated regularly, and we urge employers to do that in co-operation with trade union health and safety reps.

“We also welcome the particular focus on retail and the strengthening of regulations to make stores as safe as possible.

“Retail staff are working with the public every day and not only suffer increased abuse, but are deeply worried about catching Covid-19.

“We are very concerned by reports from our members that too many customers are abusing shopworkers and not following necessary safety measures, like social distancing, wearing a face covering and shopping alone where possible for essential items only.

“Usdaw is urging the shopping public to strictly follow the rules and respect shopworkers.

“Supermarket staff have worked throughout the pandemic to keep the country supplied with essentials. These key workers must be valued, respected and protected.”

Speaking on Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said it was “entirely unacceptable” that those working in shops had been abused by customers and members of the public.

He also urged shoppers to take personal responsibility to follow the rules in place while out shopping.

Mr Drakeford said: ““Risk assessments must be reviewed and updated regularly, whenever circumstances change and I want to make clear in law this includes whenever the coronavirus Alert levels change in Wales.

“Recording the risk assessment will only be required by those who employ five or more people.

“We are working closely with employers, trade unions, Local Authorities and the Health and Safety Executive to consider the detail on how to keep work settings safe.

“Ministers have also met this week with key retailers to discuss their vital role during the pandemic. They set out the actions they are taking from providing sanitisers for hands and trolleys on entry; limiting the numbers in store at any one time; and making regular announcements reminding people to keep their distance from others.

“We will strengthen regulations to ensure retailers take these steps so that their premises are as safe as possible for shoppers and their employees alike. Many are already operating high standards and we need to raise the bar for those who could and should improve.

“However we all have a personal responsibility to help make shops as safe as possible.

“We all need to shop alone if we can, observe the 2m rule, practise good hand hygiene and wear a face covering unless exempt. Any abuse directed at store employees who remind people of their responsibilities will not be tolerated.”

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