Practical guidelines have been published to make workplaces as safe as possible and give people confidence to go back to work during the coronavirus pandemic.
The 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.
Covering 8 workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways, the new guidelines were developed in consultation with approximately 250 businesses, unions, industry leaders as well as devolved administrations.
The new guidance sets out practical steps for businesses focused on 5 key points, which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:
- Work from home, if you can
All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. But for those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, our message is clear: you should go to work. Staff should speak to their employer about when their workplace will open.
- 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 and 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 2 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, creating 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.
- Reinforcing cleaning processes
Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. 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.
Speaking about the new guidelines, Brian Berry, Chief Executive, Federation of Master Builders said: “The creation of safe work places is of paramount importance to getting the construction industry back to work and playing its part in helping the country to recover from the current crisis. The government’s willingness to consult and listen to the construction sector about creating safe work places has been positive and productive and will help the return to work. During a time of national emergency it has been reassuring that the Department of Business and the construction sector have worked together so effectively”.
Click here to view the guidance on working safely during coronavirus.