Working safely during coronavirus
The government has produced guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed in England understand how to work safely on their return to work during the coronavirus pandemic. The so-called “COVID-19 Secure” guidance currently comprises eight separate guides covering the following workplace settings:
construction and other outdoor work
factories, plants and warehouses
labs and research facilities
offices and contact centres
other people’s homes
restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
shops and branches
Businesses that operate more than one type of workplace may need to use more than one guide. Each guide includes a downloadable notice that employers can display in their workplace to show that they have followed the guidance. Guides for workplaces that are not currently permitted to be open will be published in due course, ahead of their opening.
There is also general guidance which applies across all workplaces that are currently allowed to open and this sets out five key points for employers to implement as soon as practicable:
Employees must still work from home if they can, and employers should take all reasonable steps to help them work from home
Employers should carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines need to be put in place and then they should share the results with their workforce (and if they have more than 50 staff, they should publish the results on their website)
Workspaces should be re-designed to maintain two metres social distancing, wherever possible
Where employees cannot be two metres apart, the transmission risk should be managed
Cleaning processes should be reinforced.
Finally, to help employers with carrying out risk assessments, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a toolkit. The toolkit begins by setting out the steps that need to be taken by employers to manage risk and then it goes on to provide a risk assessment template document together with a number of example risk assessments covering various industries, including an office-based business, warehouse, local shop and food preparation and service. Finally, there are links to more detailed guidance for employers on managing risk.