Working safely during Covid-19

Latest guidance and resources

Although most legal restrictions were lifted in England on 19 July 2021, and many people have been vaccinated, it is still possible for people to catch and spread Covid-19. The following resources provide support and guidance on working safely during this time.

Safe working practices during Covid-19

Priority actions for all work places:

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.

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.

Clean more often

Turn away people with Covid-19 symptoms

  • Anyone who develops Covid-19 symptoms should self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test, even if symptoms are mild.

    Staff members or customers should self-isolate if they or someone in their household has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell. They must also self-isolate if they or a close contact has had a positive Covid-19 result, or if they have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. If you know that a worker is self-isolating, you must not allow them to come to work. It’s an offence to do this. See note below regarding workplace Covid-19 testing.

Enable people to check in at your venue

  • You are no longer legally required to collect customer contact details, but doing so will support NHS Test and Trace to contact those who may have been exposed to Covid-19 so that they can book a test.
  • You can enable people to check in to your venue by displaying an NHS QR code poster. You do not have to ask people to check in or turn people away if they refuse. If you choose to display a QR code, you should also have a system in place to record contact details for people who want to check in but do not have the app. Create a QR code for display in your venue

Communicate and train

  • Keep all your workers, contractors and visitors up-to-date on how you’re using and updating safety measures.

Testing

  • After the end of July, workplaces are asked to direct their employees to local pharmacies and online ordering to continue accessing rapid lateral flow tests, as the national system for supplying free test kits directly to businesses comes to an end.
  • As we continue returning to normal, twice-weekly testing remains key and we recommend people continue to test.
  • 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.
     
  • If you have been approached by NHS Test and Trace to be a site for contact testing (in lieu of isolation) for workers, you should follow the guidance and protocols provided.

If you are reopening a business

You will need to follow all the guidance above. In addition you may need to:

Check equipment and installations

If your business has been closed for a number of weeks you will need to consider the risks from things such as legionella and possible rodent infestations, for example, as well as making sure that all equipment and installations are safe and in good working order.

Check water systems

When buildings reopen after lockdown, it is essential that water systems are not put back into use without considering the risks of Legionnaires' disease. There is an increased risk of waterborne pathogens such as Legionella bacteria being present as a consequence of the conditions that lockdown may have created.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has published guidance about reopening your business safely after lockdown. This includes the following advice:

  • Flush through simple hot and cold water systems with fresh mains water for several minutes
  • Increase the temperature of hot water systems to above 60°C if possible and drawing it through to all hot water outlets (a temperature over 60°C will kill Legionella bacteria over time)
  • Flush through larger hot and cold water systems (including those with tanks, showers, calorifiers) for a significant period of time
  • Ensuring that the system is capable of delivering water at safe temperatures by checking temperatures ahead of reopening
  • Undertake a chemical or thermal disinfection of the water system or microbiological sampling for Legionella bacteria if required

Reopening a food business

The Food Standards Agency has published guidance for reopening food businesses after a period of closure. You should also check the following:

  • Food preparation areas are clean and disinfected
  • All areas are free from evidence of pest activity
  • Handwashing and cleaning materials' availability
  • Hot and cold running water is available at all sinks and hand wash basins
  • Fridges, chilled display equipment and freezers are working properly
  • Other equipment, such as ovens, are working properly
  • Raw materials and ingredients are safe and allergen information is accurate and available for all products

Herefordshire Council's environmental health team are on hand to help - we can give you advice and information on how to reopen your business safely, please call us on 01432 261761.