Government publishes COVID-19 Secure Guidelines to help businesses get back to work
The government has published its new COVID-19 Secure Guidelines to help employers get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible. These have been produced following consultation with 250 stakeholders including unions, PHE and the HSE.
There are 8 separate guidance documents for different workplace settings although more than one document may be relevant for some businesses. There is no substitute for reading the guidance. It sets out detailed steps and recommendations for the employer to take and to help identify further ideas for improvement. It also includes contact numbers, website addresses and gives photographic examples e.g. of lift practices, work stations.
The guidance sets out practical steps focused on 5 key points which it says should be implemented as soon as it is practical:
- Work from home if possible but those who cannot and whose workplace has not been told to close should go to work. Staff should speak to their employer about when the workplace will open.
- Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment in consultation with workers or trade unions to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible publish the results on the website. Businesses with more than 50 employees are expected to do this.
- Maintain social distancing where possible by re-designing workspaces e.g. staggering start times, creating one way walk-throughs, opening more exits and entrances and changing seating layouts.
- Manage transmission risk where social distancing is not possible e.g. by staggering start times, putting barriers in shared spaces or having fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with each other.
- Reinforcing cleaning processes paying close attention to high contact objects like door handles and keyboards, providing handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.
The different workplace settings with links to the relevant guidance:
- Construction and other outdoor work
- Laboratories and research facilities
- Offices and contact centres
- Other people’s homes
- Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
- Shops and branches
- Factories, plants and warehouses
The guidance is likely to be updated and therefore employers should always check the latest version.
Employers should display the downloadable notice to show people that this guidance has been followed.
Risk assessment and consultation
With many employees concerned about the risks of returning to work, the most important message from the guidance is to ensure that a risk assessment is carried out as soon as possible to identify sensible measures to control the risk in the particular workplace. Employers must also consult with their health and safety representatives or staff about the work and how they will manage risks from COVID-19.
We work with health and safety consultants specialising in risk assessments for different working environments who can help with this essential process.
For more information, please contact Emma Bartlett or a member of the Charles Russell Speechlys Employment team.
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