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Working safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak 12/06/2020

The Government has issued guidance around safe working during the coronavirus outbreak.  It’s designed to help you make your work and workplace safe (be COVID-secure). It'll help you to manage the risk associated with re-starting or running your business during the outbreak.  You should start by updating your risk assessment to manage the risk of coronavirus in your business. This will help you to understand what you should do to work safely and protect people.  Follow this guide for an overview of practical measures you can take. It includes help with how to maintain social distancing in your workplace, staggering shifts, cleaning and how to talk with workers.  You can find the full guide at https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm but also find a summary below:

As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus. This is called a risk assessment and it’ll help you manage risk and protect people.  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 isn’t possible, control the risk

If you have fewer than five employees, you don’t have to write anything down, but it might help if you do.  The Government have produced guidance to help you work safely (be COVID-secure) and manage the risk associated with running your business at this time.  It includes practical measures you can take, for example:

  • putting in place social distancing measures
  • staggering shifts
  • providing additional handwashing facilities

Talk to workers and provide information;  by consulting and involving people in the 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

Make your workplace secure:

Entrances and exits

  • Stagger arrival and departure times so that people do not use entry and exit points at the same time.
  • Provide handwashing facilities so people can wash their hands when they get into and leave work (provide hand sanitiser where this is not possible).

Social distancing

Keep work areas 2 metres apart and allocate one person only to each work area. If this is not possible, then keep the number of people in each work area as low as possible.

To help workers to social distance you can:

  • use floor tape or paint to mark work areas
  • provide signage to remind people to keep a 2 m distance
  • use screens to create a physical barrier between people
  • have people working side-by-side rather than face-to-face
  • limit movement of people
  • rotating between jobs and equipment
  • using lifts and work vehicles
  • in high-traffic areas like corridors, turnstiles and walkways
  • allow only essential trips within buildings and between sites

Breaks and canteens

  • Stagger breaktimes so that people are not using break rooms, canteens or rest areas at the same time.
  • Use outside areas for breaks and encourage staff to stay on-site during working hours to help workers with social distancing on their breaks.
  • Providing packaged meals could help to avoid fully opening canteens. Reconfigure seating and tables in welfare areas to maintain spacing and reduce face to face interactions.

Protect people at higher risk

  • If a worker is shielding because they are clinically vulnerable you should not ask them to work outside their home. Help them to work from home, if possible, either in their current role or in an alternative role.
  • If a worker lives with someone who is shielding, the worker does not need to shield. Talk to your worker and try to agree the best way to protect the shielded person. This may include working from home.

Cleaning, hygiene and hand sanitiser

Use signs and posters to help your workers to practice good handwashing technique and to remind them to cough/sneeze into an arm and avoid touching their faces.

Handwashing

  • provide handwashing facilities with running water, soap and paper towels
  • provide hand sanitiser at locations in addition to washrooms
  • provide hand sanitiser nearby for people getting in and out of vehicles or handling deliveries, if they are unable to wash their hands
  • Make sure that surfaces remain clean. This may mean increasing the level and frequency of cleaning as well as cleaning surfaces that you may not ordinarily clean.

Clean equipment frequently

  • Set clear guidance for the use and cleaning of toilets, showers and changing facilities to make sure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible
  • Clean work areas and equipment between uses
  • Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly
  • If equipment like tools or vehicles are shared then clean them after each use

We have previously issued the Governments Guidance regarding working in other peoples homes, but if you need a refresher, you can find it here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/homes

and you can find advice about using PPE in the workplace here:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/ppe-face-masks/index.htm#

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