Failed safe?

Enforcing workplace health and safety in the age of Covid-19

This briefing note is part of a three-year programme of research exploring labour market enforcement generously funded by Unbound Philanthropy. Using a new survey of 6,000-plus UK working-age adults fielded in September this year, and administrative data from the enforcement agencies themselves, we explore how workers, employers and the regulators have responded to the threat of Covid-19 transmission in the workplace over the past six months, and draw a number of conclusions as to how enforcement could be improved.

The topic is highly relevant to policy makers for two key reasons. First, ‘Covid-secure’ workplaces are critical for containing the virus over the coming months. Second, safe workplaces are also necessary if economic activity, so crucial for living standards, is to return to anything close to normality in the foreseeable future.