Government tells workplaces to be 'Covid-19 Secure', what does that mean?

12 May 2020, 07:13

Workplaces will need to ensure they are "Covid-19 Secure"
Workplaces will need to ensure they are "Covid-19 Secure". Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Workplaces have been told to ensure they are "Covid-19 Secure" after the Prime Minister issued a return-to-work call on Sunday, but how does a workplace protect its staff against Covid-19.

Employers - including factories and construction sites - will be required to carry out a coronavirus risk assessment before they can resume work.

But, Boris Johnson was criticised after he encouraged employees to return to work but did not explain how it could be safely achieved.

Now the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has laid out guidance for employers and said it should be put in place "as soon as is practical".

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The detailed guidance covers eight different settings and is broken down into practical steps the

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.

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Here's everything we know so far.

Those who can work from home, 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.

Risk assessments 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 are expected to do so.

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.

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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.

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 objects that are regularly touched by different people such as door handles and keyboards. Employers are told to provide hand-washing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points and a notice to display is available to download on the Government website.