Waiting Rooms, or lack of them

Being concerned about the situation where ADIs are having to wait outside test centres in the terrible weather that we’ve been having, and with winter looming on the horizon, I wrote to the HSE to see what the position is with regard to visitors to DVSA premises and provision for shelter.

This is what I wrote – As a result of Covid 19 the DVSA has decided that driving instructors will not be allowed access to waiting rooms while their candidates are out on test. This means that instructors can be waiting out in all weathers for up to an hour, sometimes more, often with no protection against the elements other than a coat and umbrella. Many test centres are remote from any kind of facility within a reasonable distance where they could shelter from the weather. And in any case they have to be on hand in case their candidate’s test is terminated and returns to the test centre early. The last couple of days have brought some very unpleasant weather with high winds and torrential rain and many centres have little or no shelter. But at least the temperatures were reasonable. What is going to happen as winter comes on and it gets colder? We do feel that this decision is unreasonable and shows a lack of empathy and compassion on the part of the agency. Many instructors are of older age groups, some have disabilities that preclude them from standing for long periods, especially in inclement weather. Some are considering leaving the profession as a result of this decision. Some instructors have asked to put up gazebos outside test centres to at least provide a bit of shelter, this request has been denied. Most centres have no outside seating, and requests for seating provision has also been denied. If instructors get colds as a result of having to stand outside, then they will in all probability have to stop work as their symptoms may be similar to that of Covid 19. Driving instructors are self employed and not entitled to government assistance in the form of sick pay. May we ask what the legal situation is with regard to government agencies providing facilities for visitors to their premises? Is there a duty of care on the agency towards people who are its customers, in that instructors pay the agency a licence fee to be able to deliver lessons.

And this was their reply –

Dear Sue Duncan,

Thank you for contacting HSE about access to welfare facilities at DVSA test centres.

The Workplace (Health Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 (Regulations 20 and 21) require the provision of suitable sanitary and washing facilities.  At test centres this includes the provision of suitable toilet and handwashing facilities, which should be lit, ventilated and kept clean.  Access must be provided to all visiting workers, including driving examiners and instructors who visit the centre as part of their work.  During the current pandemic, access to handwashing facilities is particularly important to control the transmission of Covid-19.  This should also be provided to any candidates who visit the centre as part of the testing process.
Driving examiners and instructors must additionally be provided with suitable rest areas, which at test centres means waiting rooms.  Where existing waiting rooms are not suitable to maintain social distancing in line with government guidelines, employers should identify alternative areas.  If this is not possible, existing waiting rooms may be used with the provision of additional instruction and information to potential users, which covers steps to be taken to maintain social distancing.  Waiting rooms should be kept clean and be sufficiently ventilated.

HSE has contacted the DVSA directly on the use of welfare and rest facilities.  We have been assured that:
• Access is now allowed to sanitary and handwashing facilities at all test centres.  This includes driving examiners, instructors and pupils / candidates.
• DVSA are assessing individual test centres in relation to the provision of waiting rooms.  They have been advised that the provision of waiting rooms for workers is a legal requirement.
I hope that this reassures you regarding access to suitable welfare facilities at DVSA test centres.  If you have further concerns on this matter that cannot be resolved by speaking with the DVSA, please contact HSE as the relevant enforcing authority.  Contact arrangements for reporting specific coronavirus (Covid-19) workplace concerns to the HSE are:
• by telephone: 0300 003 1647 (lines are open 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)
• online using our Concerns form

 

We are sharing this reply with the other NASP associations, and with DVSA.  We will keep you informed of any progress.

 

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