Working safely during Covid-19
Guidance relating to Covid-19 is frequently updated, but by following the links in this document employers can ensure that they are always accessing current guidance.
We know that new variants of Covid-19 will emerge and that outbreaks can, and will occur. This document covers current requirements and, where known, future changes.
Detailed government guidance on reducing the risk of transmission in the workplace is available for various sectors including construction and outdoor work, events and attractions, hotels and guest accommodation, offices, factories and labs, restaurants, pubs and hospitality and shops, branches and close contact services.
The priority actions that you/employers need to take can be summarised as:
1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes the risk from Covid-19
Complete a risk assessment, considering the measures set out in guidance. Also consider reasonable adjustments needed for staff and customers with disabilities. Share it with all your staff. Keep it updated.
If you have any pregnant or at high risk from Covid-19 staff or children/clients, a risk assessment should be completed to ensure their safety in the setting.
Children and young people who were previously identified as being in one of these groups, are advised to continue to follow Guidance for people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from Covid-19. Young people over the age of 12 with a weakened immune system should follow Guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk from Covid-19.In some circumstances, a child or young person may have received personal advice from their specialist or clinician on additional precautions to take and they should continue to follow that advice.
Some people who are at high risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19 may be eligible for priority home PCR testing for use if they get symptoms; eligible patients should have been advised of this by their specialist.
Identified people who test positive for Covid-19, either using the PCR test provided or from a lateral flow test (registered via gov.uk or 119), will be contacted for early assessment to determine eligibility for Covid-19 treatment.
Please advise people who may be high risk of Covid-19, of this service - Treatments for coronavirus (Covid-19) - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
If a person thinks they are high risk but have not received a priority testing kit then they should contact their GP if they become unwell with Covid-19 symptoms; Covid-19 should be confirmed by PCR test (registered via gov.uk or 119)
- From 1 April 2022 the government plans to:
- Consolidate guidance to the public and businesses, in line with public health advice
- Remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider Covid-19 in their risk assessments
- Replace the existing set of ‘Working Safely’ guidance with new public health guidance
2. Provide adequate ventilation
You should make sure there is a supply of fresh air to indoor spaces where there are people present. This can be natural ventilation through opening windows, doors and vents, mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or a combination of both. You should identify any poorly ventilated spaces in your premises and take steps to improve fresh air flow in these areas. In some places, a CO2 monitor can help identify if the space is poorly ventilated. Read the advice on air conditioning and ventilation on the HSE website.
3. Clean more often
It’s especially important to clean surfaces that people touch a lot. You should ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and to clean their hands frequently. View more detailed guidance, including cleaning after a person with Covid-19 has been in the premises.
4. Managing cases
People who have Covid-19 are no longer legally required to self-isolate. However people who have the main symptoms of Covid-19, or a positive test result should not attend work. They should follow public health advice to stay at home and avoid contact with other people to prevent spreading infection amongst the workforce.
- Not ask workers with any of the main symptoms of Covid-19 or a positive test result to come to work
- Enable workers to work from home if they have any of the main symptoms of Covid-19 or a positive test result. If a worker is unable to work from home, you should talk to them about the options available, such as receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Refer workers to the Covid-19 guidance for people with Covid-19 and their contacts
- Consider the risks associated with visitors, clients and customers who have symptoms or a positive test result, in your risk assessment
5. Customer check in, Covid passes and QR codes
You are no longer legally required to collect customer contact details or to display QR code posters.
- From 1 April 2022 the Government will remove the current guidance on domestic voluntary Covid-status certification and will no longer recommend that venues use the NHS Covid Pass
6. Communicate and train
Keep all your workers, contractors and visitors up-to-date on how you’re using and updating safety measures. Remove outdated signs and posters and replace with current guidance as appropriate.
The national system for supplying free test kits directly to businesses has ended. Workplaces are asked to direct their employees to local pharmacies and online ordering to continue accessing rapid lateral flow tests. If employees cannot use the online service they can call 119 (free from mobiles and landlines).
Regular lateral flow testing remains key to stopping transmission and we recommend everyone continues to test regularly as they are at higher risk of catching or passing on Covid-19 when in crowded and enclosed spaces, or when there is limited fresh air.
Workplaces also have the option to test their employees through private testing providers. Employers should refer to the list of providers for general Covid-19 testing and related guidance if they wish to continue workforce testing via this route. The government does not endorse, recommend or approve any private test provider.
- From 1 April 2022 the Government will no longer provide free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England. Limited symptomatic testing will be available for a small number of at-risk groups - the Government will set out further details on which groups will be eligible. Free symptomatic testing will remain available to social care staff and testing may be used in the management of large outbreaks in the future.
8. Face coverings
Ensure that you are aware of the latest requirements and guidance on the use of face coverings.
As an employer you can encourage and support your workers to access Covid-19 vaccinations. There is detailed information on eligibility and access to vaccinations in Herefordshire on our vaccinations page, and some useful myth busting facts.
There is further detail on planned changes in the government document Living with Covid published in February 2022.
For advice and support in applying these measures in the workplace, please contact:
Outbreak Control Hub, Herefordshire Council. Phone: 01432 383799 or email: email@example.com