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Key points in the Government’s ‘Covid-19 secure’ workplace guidance

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has outlined five elements to help businesses get back to work.

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(Nick Ansell/PA)

(Nick Ansell/PA)

(Nick Ansell/PA)

Measures for making workplaces including offices, construction sites and factories “Covid-19 secure” have been outlined by the Government.

The detailed guidance covers eight different settings and is broken down into practical steps which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said should be put in place “as soon as is practical”.

Guidelines are issued for workplaces categorised as construction and other outdoor work, factories, plants and warehouses, homes, labs and research facilities, offices and contact centres, restaurants, shops and vehicles.

The guidelines apply to businesses that are allowed to open under current lockdown rules and shops that could begin a “phased reopening” from June 1 if transmission of the virus decreases.

Here are the key factors on which BEIS said these steps should be based:

– Those who can should work from home

Employers should take “all reasonable steps” to allow staff to work from home. Where that is not possible and workplaces have not been told to close, the Government said people should go to work.

– Assess risks in consultation with workers or trade unions

Under health and safety, employment and equalities legislation, employers should carry out Covid-19 risk assessments and consult staff or trade unions. Firms should publish the assessment if possible and BEIS said all businesses with more than 50 employees were expected to do so.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

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(PA Graphics)

– Where possible, two-metre social distancing should be maintained

Work areas should be redesigned to accommodate a distance of two metres between people, while other measures could include staggering start times, creating one-way pathways around sites, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating plans in break rooms.

– Manage the risk of transmission if two-metre distancing not possible

This could include putting barriers in shared spaces, creating shift patterns or fixed teams to minimise contact between people, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.

The guidelines state multiple people should avoid travelling in the same vehicle, and for vehicles to not be shared if possible.

Additional safety measures should be considered if social distancing is not possible for people such as couriers, mobile workers and lorry drivers.

If a risk assessment shows personal protective equipment is required then it must be provided free of charge to workers who need it, and must fit properly.

But the Government guidelines say workplaces “should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against Covid-19 outside clinical settings” such as hospitals or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of the virus.

Employers are encouraged to support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one.

– More frequent cleaning

Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, with a focus on regularly-touched objects such as door handles and keyboards. Employers are told to provide hand-washing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points. A relevant notice to display is available to download on the Government website.

PA