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5 safe working principles for a “COVID-19 secure” business

The Government’s new guidance for employers is based on five safe working principles, to help businesses get back up and running and British workers safely return to work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The practical guidelines were developed in consultation with approximately 250 businesses, unions, industry leaders, health and safety authorities, as well as devolved administrations.

Covering eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways, it sets out practical steps based on five key principles, as follows.

  1. Work from home, if you can. All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home but for those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, the message is clear: go to work.
  2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and all businesses with over 50 employees are expected to do so.
  3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible, by redesigning workspaces: staggering start times, creating one-way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.
  4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk by putting barriers in shared spaces, creating shift patterns or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.
  5. Reinforcing cleaning processes: workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.

Up to an extra £14 million is to be made available for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for additional call centre employees, inspectors and equipment.

The guidance also provides employers with a downloadable notice for businesses to display to show people they have followed the guidance.

Content last updated 21 May 2020

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