Covid-19: working safely during the coronavirus outbreak

Latest Government announcement

During the current national restrictions many businesses must close and people are required to stay at home as much as possible.

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. Some essential businesses are permitted to operate if covid secure measures are in place but many  businesses are required to close. 

The Government has published a 4 step plan to gradually ease restrictions from 8th March but until then the Stroud District continues to be subject to national 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.

The current "lockdown" has serious implications for the following businesses which, apart from a few exemptions, must close:-

  • non-essential retail, such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms (other than for rental), betting shops, tailors, tobacco and vape shops, electronic goods and mobile phone shops, auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods – these venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services
  • hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery
  • accommodation such as hotels, hostels, guest houses and campsites, except for specific circumstances, such as where these act as someone’s main residence, where the person cannot return home, for providing accommodation or support to the homeless, or where it is essential to stay there for work purposes
  • leisure and sports facilities such as leisure centres and indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts, indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor riding centres, and indoor climbing walls
  • entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks and trampolining centres), circuses, fairgrounds, funfairs, zoos and other animal attractions, water parks and theme parks
  • indoor attractions at venues such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks must also close, though outdoor grounds of these premises can stay open
  • personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons. Tattoo parlours, spas, massage parlours, body and skin piercing services must also close. These services should not be provided in other people’s homes
  • community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities, as set out below. Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services

Everyone is now encouraged to stay at home and avoid making non-essential journeys. Travel is permitted for work and volunteering purpoes.

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.

Events

For the time being we strongly discourage the holding of events in the District especially if large numbers of people are expected to gather. 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

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.

Detailed guidance is available on GOV.UK for the following specific work settings:

and HSE has produced further advice on

Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak - a short guide (PDF)

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.

Talking with your workers about working safely during the coronavirus outbreak (PDF)

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).

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)

 

  • 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. Many close contact services are required to close during the national restrictions in place in England.

  • 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.

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