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Covid-19: working safely during the coronavirus outbreak

Latest Government announcement

England is currently in Step 4 of the Government's Road Map and all businesses may open. While cases are high, everybody needs to continue to act carefully and remain cautious. Businesses in particular will continue to have a duty to manage the risks from Covid to their employees and customers.

A government guide to what you can and cannot do during this period can be found here. 

Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

From Step 4, legal restrictions have been lifted, all businesses can open and the government is no longer instructing people to work from home. Nevertheless, whilst transmission rates remain high, it is important for businesses to continue to manage the transmission of coronavirus in their workplace. 

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.

From Step 4, social distancing guidance will no longer apply. This means t

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 the pandemic (sometimes known as being ‘COVID secure’), for example by improving ventilation, 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 different types of work

hat you do not need to implement social distancing in your business, workplace or venue, and customers and workers do not need to keep apart from people they don’t live with. However, this means that good ventilation of indoor spaces will become even more important.

The government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, so employers can start to plan a return to workplaces. During this period of high prevalence, the government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer. You should discuss the timing and phasing of a return with your workers.

All businesses should follow the principles set out in the working safely guidance. Employers will still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations employers should consider including:

  • cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly;
  • identifying poorly-ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow;
  • ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue;
  • communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place.

The importance of ventilation.

Adequate ventilation reduces how much virus is in the air. It helps reduce the risk from aerosol transmission (when someone breathes in small particles in the air (aerosols) after a person with the virus has been in the same enclosed area). Good ventilation is even more important if other measures, such as wearing face coverings and social distancing, are relaxed. The Health and Safety Executive has produced some good guidance on ventilation and air-conditioning during the coronavirus pandemic.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors can be used to identify poorly ventilated areas. People exhale CO2 when they breathe out. If there is a build-up of CO2 in an area it can indicate that ventilation needs improving.

The NHS Covid Pass

We encourage organisations in higher risk settings to use the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry, in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19. This will especially be the case in large crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household. The Government reserves the right to mandate certification in certain venues at a later date if necessary.

To support organisations and individuals in these settings, the NHS COVID Pass will be made available through the NHS App, NHS.UK, or as a letter that can be requested by ringing NHS 119. Visitors will also be able to show text or email confirmation of test results. Organisations should ensure they are in compliance with all legal obligations, including on equalities.

There are some settings where the NHS COVID Pass should not be used as a condition of entry, in order to ensure access for all. This includes essential services and essential retailers which have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic.

Businesses are also encouraged to continue displaying QR codes for customers wishing to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, or to continue collecting customer contact details to support NHS Test and Trace, however this will no longer be a legal requirement.

Face Coverings

Face coverings will no longer be legally required to be worn by customers in certain indoor settings. COVID-19 spreads through the air by droplets and aerosols that are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person. The Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport. Employers should continue to consider the use of face coverings as a means to manage the risk of transmission in busy indoor workplaces. 

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.

Events

- 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 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, good ventilation, cleaning and hygiene.

Talking with your workers about working safely during the coronavirus outbreak

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.

Resources

  • 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).

Vaccination and Testing

Encourage your employees to have both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible. Vaccines are safe and effective and the surest way of the country moving out of the restrictions that have hit businesses so badly.

Employees can also help to minimise transmission by taking a regular test, even if they do not have symptoms, using a lateral flow device. Test kits are free and easy to obtain by post or from pharmacies. If you would like to obtain bulk supplies of LFD kits for your employees you can now register your interest online via a simple form. You will be invited to an introductory webinar (1hr) which explains in detail everything you need to know before you start setting up a testing site; and you will be invited to review a set of documents including terms and conditions, which need to be signed before placing an order. If you have specific queries contact P-and-PSector@dhsc.gov.uk,

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 environmental.health@stroud.gov.uk

(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)

 

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