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.

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:
    • Consolidated guidance to the public and businesses, in line with public health advice
    • Removed the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider Covid-19 in their risk assessments
    • Replaced the '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 COmonitor 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.

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.

You should:

  • 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)
  • 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 removed the guidance on domestic voluntary Covid-status certification and no longer recommends 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.

7. Testing

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.

Workplaces 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 no longer provides free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England. Limited symptomatic testing is available for a small number of at-risk groups. 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. Vaccination

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 these 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: outbreakcontrolhub@herefordshire.gov.uk