Is it safe to return to work?

SO FAR we've not heard of freelances facing unsafe working conditions through being "asked" to return to the workplace as part of lockdown easing. Freelances are instead just being laid off during the coronavirus lockdown.

But if you are requested by a client, agency or employer to return to their workplace or go out on assignment, what are you to do?

NUJ health and safety committee chair Adam Christie told the Freelance that everyone should look at the TUC's health and safety guide at www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/BrownBook2015.pdf.

Said Adam, "The UK has specific regulations covering occupational exposure to 'biological agents'," in a series of statutory instruments covering the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health or 'Coshh'. "Under this... viruses - including the coronavirus - are 'substances' and each and every one of is a 'substance container'."

The Health & Safety at Work Act (HSWA) covers "how risk assessments must be 'suitable and sufficient' and apply to all places of work. No one can opt out of the HSWA either"

Watch this space (online) for possible imminent updates from the NUJ on returning to work.

Members facing health and safety issues around a return to work should contact the Freelance Office.