New ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines are available to UK employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible.
This follows the Prime Minster setting out steps to beat the virus and restart the economy, so we can protect jobs, restore people’s livelihoods and fund the country’s vital public services.
The government has consulted approximately 250 stakeholders in preparing the guidance. It has been developed with input from firms, unions, industry bodies and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to develop best practice on the safest ways of working across the economy, providing people with the confidence they need to return to work.
The new guidance covers eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways. This sets out practical steps for businesses focussed on five key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical.
Employers must carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions, this guidance operates within current health and safety employment and equalities legislation.
Employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.
Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible. Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain two metre distances between people by staggering start times, creating one way walk throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.
Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces. They should create workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.
Employers must reinforcing cleaning processes and Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently. Close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards must be maintained.
Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.
A downloadable notice is included in the documents, which employers should display in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and other visitors to their workplace, that they have followed this guidance.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said, “This guidance provides a framework to get the UK back to work in a way that is safe for everyone.
“These are practical steps to enable employers to identify risks that COVID-19 creates and to take pragmatic measures to mitigate them.
“And as we are able to reopen new sectors of the economy, we will continue our collaborative approach working with a wide range of stakeholders, to provide guidance for additional workplaces.”
Sarah Albon Chief Executive, Health and Safety Executive said, “The BEIS guidance issued sets out practical steps employers can take to enable staff to continue and return to work.
“We have worked with BEIS to ensure businesses have access to the information they need to put in place measures to help them work safely. This will assist employers in carrying out risk assessments and putting practical measures in place.
“At the heart of the return to work is controlling the risk posed by the virus. Ensuring safe working practices are in place will help deliver a safe return to work and support businesses across the country.
However, union appointed health and safety inspectors and have the power to check all business premises to enforce the guidance.