Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak
As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus. In your risk assessment you must:
- Identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
- Think about who could be at risk
- Decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
- Act to remove the activity or situation, or if this is not possible, control the risk.
There is more specific guidance for industries or sectors at: www.gov.uk/workingsafely
Talking with your workers
To help you let people know what they need to do to protect themselves. You should also decide how you will tell people who don’t have English as their first language and others who may struggle with written and verbal communication.
Who should go to work?
You should think about:
- Where and how your work is carried out,
- Consider if there are jobs and tasks that can be changed to reduce risk
- Identifying everyone in your business who can work from home – if they can, they should; providing equipment needed for employees to work safely and effectively at home (for example laptops, mobile phones, video conferencing equipment)
- Keeping in regular contact with people working from home, making sure you discuss their well-being and helping them to feel they are still part of the workforce
- Where it is not possible to work from home, the guidance on social distancing and hygiene (hand washing with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds) should be followed
- The minimum number of people needed to carry out work tasks safely.
Protecting people who are at higher risk
- Planning for clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding) workers who must not work outside the home
- Planning for people working at home who have someone shielding in their household; helping workers at increased risk to work from home, either in their current role or an alternative role where people at increased risk cannot work from home, offering them the safest available roles
- Planning for people who need to self-isolate.
Getting into and leaving work
- Identifying where people can travel alone in their own transport (or walk, or cycle if it is safe to do so) when getting to and from work to maintain social distancing
- Staggering arrival and departure times so people can keep to the 2 m social distancing rules by not using entry/exit points at the same time
- Providing hand washing facilities (running water, soap and paper towels) at entry/exit points.
- People should be able to wash their hands when they get to work and leave. If this is not possible, provide hand sanitiser.
Organise your work area so that you can keep people 2 m apart, where possible:
- Physically arrange work areas to keep people 2 m apart
- Mark areas using floor paint or tape to help people keep a 2 m distance
- Provide signage to remind people to keep a 2 m distance
- Avoid people working face-to-face, for example working side-by-side.
- Where you cannot keep a 2 m physical distance, you should think about: assigning one person per work area
- Reducing the number of people in the work area
- Assigning and keeping people to shift teams (sometimes known as a cohort), that is people on the same shift working in the same teams, to limit social interaction
- Keeping the number of people working less than 2 m apart to a minimum
- Using screens to create a physical barrier between people.
Keep the work area clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.
- Decide on how frequently you need to clean the work area, equipment, and vehicles, for example cleaning at the end of each use if equipment is shared between people or between shift change overs
- Identify objects and surfaces that are touched regularly and decide how frequently you clean them
- Provide hand sanitiser for people getting in and out of vehicles or handling deliveries if they are unable to wash their hands.
Moving around – how people travel through work environments.
- Permit only essential trips within buildings, sites, and properties, to maintain social distancing as much as possible.
- Restrict the amount that people rotate between jobs and equipment.
- Limit the number of people who use lifts and work vehicles.
- Reduce the number of people in high traffic areas including lifts, corridors, turnstiles, and walkways.
- Mark areas using floor paint or tape to help people keep a 2 m distance.
- Consider introducing temporary pedestrian walkways to allow people to maintain social distancing when moving around.
Common areas used in your business including canteens, toilets, showers, and changing facilities.
- Physically moving tables/chairs so they are 2 m apart
- Staggering break times so that people are not using break rooms, canteens, rest areas or changing facilities at the same time to maintain social distancing; where this is not possible, creating additional space for people to take their breaks in; marking areas using floor paint or tape to help people keep a 2 m distance;
- Using outside areas for breaks if the locations are suitable and it is safe to do so
- Encouraging workers to stay on-site during working hours.
- Where you cannot keep a 2 m physical distance, you need to think about how to keep common areas clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.
- How frequently you need to clean the common areas of your business
- Identifying objects and surfaces that are touched regularly and decide how frequently you clean them
- Setting clear guidance for the use of rest areas, toilets, showers, and changing facilities to make sure they are kept clean.
- Ensuring that you have hand washing facilities that provide running water, soap, and paper towels, providing hand sanitiser in addition to washing facilities
- Using signs and posters to increase awareness of good hand washing technique
- Providing regular reminders on avoiding touching your face and to cough/sneeze into your arm
- Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms
- Setting clear guidance for the cleaning of toilets, showers and changing facilities to make sure they are kept clean
- Setting clear guidance on how to handle goods, merchandise, and materials and when cleaning procedures need to be followed.
Information and guidance
- Providing people (including workers and others) with information on procedures, guidance, or ways of working that have been introduced
- Sharing this information with them before they start work
- Sharing this information with others who are not your workers (for example visitors, customers, or contractors), where required.
- This could include signs or notices; how you will pass information and guidance to people who don’t have English as their first language and others who may struggle with written and verbal communication
- Holding conversations with your workers, listening to, and acting on their concerns.
PPE (personal protective equipment)
Continue providing the PPE that you normally use to protect yourself or workers, for example exposure to wood dust, flour, welding fume, silica dust.
Additional PPE may be required if social distancing cannot be maintained and working within 2m of other people is required.
HSE’s latest news and advice on coronavirus (www.hse.gov.uk/news/coronavirus.htm) There is more specific guidance for your industry or sector. You can find details at https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/assets/docs/working-safely-guide.pdf
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0