Trying to keep up with the changes to workplace rules for managing coronavirus is challenging, not just for employers, but for all of us. The good news is that there are simple and effective controls that will help to keep our workplaces and our employees and customers safe. None of these controls are new and rather as seeing them as a burden on business, we must make the move to incorporating them into our routine.
Unfortunately, coronavirus is not going to just disappear, it will continue to circulate in the population and although vaccination helps to limit the transferability and effect of the virus, there remains scope for it to mutate and become resistant to the immunity the population has built up.
From a legal perspective the HSE regard coronavirus as a workplace hazard and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations compel employers to identify and manage work related hazards. Therefore, your workplace coronavirus measures should be documented in a risk assessment. Failure to do so could result in enforcement action. A recent HSE prosecution against a Manchester printing company included failing to implement suitable coronavirus control measures. The employer in this case pled guilty and was placed on a 12-month community order and ordered to pay costs of £3000.
So, what do you need to do? Regardless of the part of the UK you live/work in the following controls remain unchanged: –
Provide adequate ventilation
Ensure sufficient cleaning takes place
Maintain good hand hygiene practices
Other means to consider include: –
Face coverings – always controversial and with different approaches depending on which part of the UK you live/work in. Face coverings are regarded as a public protection measure and are not regarded as personal protective equipment under health and safety law. In England there is no legal requirement to wear face coverings in indoor settings or public transport. In Scotland and Wales everyone, including visitors and volunteers must wear a face covering in indoor public places, communal areas and shared spaces at work.
Workplace Testing provides an opportunity for employers to be proactive in encouraging the use of testing as a means of reducing transmission. Advice and support on workplace testing is available as follows: –
ENGLAND employers who want to introduce their own internal testing programmes can get more information at: www.gov.uk/government/publicaitons/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-guidance-for-employers
In SCOTLAND all businesses and organisations with 10 or more staff can sign up for asymptomatic workplace testing at: www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested/pages/workplace-testing/
In WALES information on workplace testing is available at www.gov.wales/covid-19-workplace-testing-framework
Vaccination: the NHS is the lead agency for vaccination programmes. From 11th November 2021 employees and volunteers in Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care services located in England must be fully vaccinated or have an exemption.
Ventilation reduces how much virus is in the air and reduces the risk from aerosol transmission. Further information on the importance of ventilation in the workplace is provided in this short video produced by the HSE https://youtu.be/hkK_LZeUGXM
Download our Coronavirus Workplace Self Assessment Template to carry out your own workplace coronavirus check.
If you need help implementing a detailed coronavirus risk assessment, please do contact email@example.com or call 0141 221 2984 and we will be delighted to discuss your requirements in more detail.