Covid-19: working safely during the coronavirus outbreak
Latest Government announcement
An increasing number of businesses are now permitted to operate in a Covid-secure way but some businesses must remain closed and people are advised to work from home if they can and minimise the number of journeys made.
A government guide to what you can and cannot do during the lockdown period can be found here.
Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
During the coronavirus (COVID 19) outbreak, it is important for businesses to operate where it is permitted and safe to do so. An increasing number of businesses are permitted to operate if covid-secure measures are in place but some businesses must remain closed.
The Government has published a 4 step plan to gradually ease restrictions. Businesses should review their risk assessments well in advance of reopening and familiarise themselves with the latest government guidance for their sector (see below). If your workplace has been closed for some time please look at our guidance on managing the risk from legionella, which can colonise standing water in the hot and cold water system.
Following the move to Step 2 on 12th April, further settings were permitted to open including:-
- non-essential retail can reopen
- personal care services such as hairdressers and nail salons can reopen, including those provided from a mobile setting
- public buildings such as libraries and community centres can reopen
- outdoor hospitality venues can reopen, with table service only
- most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performances (such as cinemas and concerts) can reopen
- some smaller outdoor events such as fetes, literary fairs, and fairgrounds can take place
- indoor leisure and sports facilities can reopen for individual exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble
- all childcare and supervised activities are allowed indoors (as well as outdoors) for all children. Parent and child groups can take place indoors (as well as outdoors) for up to 15 people (children under 5 will not be counted in this number)
- weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, wakes and other commemorative events can take place for up to 15 people (anyone working is not included in this limit), including in indoor venues that are permitted to open or where an exemption applies. Wedding receptions can also take place for up to 15 people, but must take place outdoors, not including private gardens
- self-contained accommodation can stay open for overnight stays in England with your household or support bubble
- care home residents will be able to nominate two named individuals for regular indoor visits (following a rapid lateral flow test)
- you should continue to work from home if you can and minimise the amount that you travel where possible
- Unless a specific exemption exists, these must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact limits at this stage - as a single household or bubble indoors; or in a group of 6 people or 2 households outdoors.
Face coverings are required to be worn by customers in all retail shops, including food shops and supermarkets. They required to be worn in hospitality settings, including restaurants, bars, and pubs (except when eating or drinking), in entertainment venues, hair and beauty salons, visitor attractions and community centres and on public transport networks. (Please note that a transparent face shield is not a substitute for a face covering that covers the nose and mouth). People with certain health conditions are exempt from the requirement to wear a face covering.
Managing covid cases and suspected outbreaks
Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is required to self-isolate to come to work. You should ensure that all employees are aware of the circumstances in which they are required to self-isolate. If you have two or more confirmed cases in the workplaces please refer to the public health action card for your setting.
Some smaller, outdoor events are now permitted. If you are planning to hold an event in the coming months you should inform all relevant agencies as soon as possible by submitting a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) event notification form. Your risk assessment and event management plan must include the steps you will take to control the transmission of coronavirus and should be submitted well in advance.
Guidance for employers on covid-secure measures.
The Government and Health and Safety Executive have produced guidance designed to help employers and self-employed work safely and control the risks associated with coronavirus infection. The guidance explains measures you can take to help you carry on working safely during coronavirus (sometimes known as being ‘COVID secure’), for example by putting in place social distancing measures, staggering shifts, providing additional handwashing facilities and how to talk with workers to help them stay safe.
The government has produced a set of guides for 14 different types of work - Working Safely During Coronavirus.
Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe. Priority actions are outlined at the top of each guide.
and HSE has produced further advice on
A guide to the steps you should take to help manage the risks of coronavirus in your business. These include taking measures to work at home where possible, maintaining social distancing, cleaning and hygiene.
By consulting and involving people in steps you are taking to manage the risk of coronavirus in your workplace you can:
- explain the changes you are planning to work safely
- make sure changes will work and hear their ideas
- continue to operate your business safely during the outbreak
You should also consult with any trade union represented in your workplace. They can provide a great deal of practical support and help ensure a smooth transition to a new way of working.
- Stroud District Council has produced a checklist to help employers identify the main controls required but this needs to be considered alongside the detailed guidance above.
- Many trade and industry groups (including Stroud Chamber of Trade) and trade unions have also produced excellent guidance.
- BBFA COVID business reopening safely checklists – Available to download from the Growth Hub Website.
Putting in place plans to work safely
These guides should not be used on their own but as a starting point to consider what you can do. Work will almost certainly need to be organised differently from how it was before the lockdown. You will need to carry out your own risk assessment and set out the control measures you have put in place to keep employees and others safe.
You should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and the government expects all employers with over 50 workers to do so).
Regulating health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic
Stroud District Council’s enforcement officers and HSE’s inspectors will continue to have regulatory oversight of how employers are meeting their responsibilities to manage the coronavirus risk in the workplace. Managing the risk presented by coronavirus is not an option, it is a legal requirement.
HSE mainly deal with health and safety enforcement in factories, construction sites, transport, farms and educational establishments whereas local authorities cover the retail, catering, entertainment and service industries.
Our enforcement officers will continue to work closely with businesses to put practical measures in place to help people get back to work safely, while remaining compliant with public health and health and safety at work requirements, and we will check that appropriate measures are in place to protect workers from COVID-19.
Support for employees and members of the public
Where a worker or visitor has a genuine concern about health and safety which cannot be resolved through speaking with their employer or trade union, they should contact the relevant enforcement agency, either:-
the Council's health and safety team, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
(For offices, retail, catering, hospitality, warehousing, entertainment and leisure premises)
or the HSE, through https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm
(For factories, construction sites, farms, education and transport)
Covid-19: restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaways
Keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services. Summary of government guidance.
Covid-19: close contact services
Keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in close contact services (such as hairdressers, barbers, tattooists, skin piercing, nail bars and beauty salons). Summary of government guidance.
Covid-19: Events, performances and festivals
The organisation of live audience events, performances and festivals presents particular challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Covid-19 Spot Checks
During the Covid-19 pandemic environmental health staff and community protection officers carrying out spot-checks to ensure covid-secure measures are in place.