COVID-19 safety measures advice for businesses

With Coronavirus (COVID-19) now affecting many areas of our services to the residents and businesses of Amber Valley, we are keen to keep you right up-to-date with the changes we are being forced to make. Read more about your council services.

The Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) are leading the UK government response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

On 23 March the government, stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives with all non-essential businesses requiring to close.

Advice from central government is changing daily so we advise you to regularly check for updates which can be done by visiting www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Premises that are permitted to trade and those that are not

Guidance on which premises are permitted to remain open and those that must close can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance.

Advice for businesses that are permitted to still trade

Health and safety law requires employers, who continue to operate under current circumstances, to do ‘what is reasonably practicable’ to protect their staff and members of the public.

To fulfil this duty in addressing the risk from COVID-19 all companies must review their risk assessments and put in place measures to ensure the guidance available from the GOV website is implemented. Please read full guidance at www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19.

Specifically, all employers should:

  • Encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible.
  • Have systems in place to ensure that if someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the advice to stay at home.
  • Employees should be reminded to wash their hands regularly throughout the day for at least 20 seconds on each occasion, and to sneeze into tissues and dispose of the tissues promptly – Catch it, Bin it, Kill it. (suitable washing facilities with soap and warm water or hand sanitisers must be provided).
  • Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products.

Companies should also take account of measures in the risk assessment, to follow general advice regarding distancing and ensure that it is observed between employees both at their workstations and in other areas of their premises. Full guidance can be read at www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people.

Where this cannot be achieved within the normal working environment additional means of protection should be considered. For example:

  1. Reduce number of workers on site at any one time.
  2. Relocating workers to other tasks.
  3. Redesigning processes to allow social distancing in place.
  4. Put in place temporary barriers between staff.
  5. Utilise technology such as teleconferencing instead of face to face meetings.
  6. Adjust workflow or production line speeds.

We are aware that employers are currently experiencing significant issues obtaining PPE.

Public Health guidance on the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) relates to health care settings. In all other settings individuals are asked to observe social distancing measures and practice good hand hygiene behaviours.

Where this cannot be achieved within the normal working environment additional means of protection should be considered.

Further advice is available from the Health and Safety Executive website at www.hse.gov.uk.

Advice for those already permitted to be open and for those planning to reopen when permitted

Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the Coronavirus pandemic has been made available.

This guidance contains information on what to consider and how to plan for working during the pandemic. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe. Read the full guidance at www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

Use the drop-down menu below for further advice and guidance.

Concerns have been raised about drivers not being able to use welfare facilities (toilets and hand washing facilities) when they are visiting customer sites and delivering / collecting goods. In the midst of the current Covid-19 situation, it is particularly important that drivers have access to welfare facilities in the premises they visit as part of their work. The welfare of all workers is a priority and that includes drivers.

There is information on the Gas Safe Register website for both landlords and gas engineers (which includes information for gas engineers whose ACS certification is due to expire soon) and provides advice on how to work in a way to reduce to spread of the COVID-19 virus. Please visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/covid-19-advice-and-guidance.

Please be aware as this is an ever-changing situation, information may be updated and amended on a regular basis.

Legionnaires Disease can affect anyone and is of particular danger to the frail and elderly and those people who may have reduced or suppressed immune systems. It requires hospitalisation for treatment and can be fatal. In the current coronavirus crisis, it is imperative that our health service is not put under any additional strain.

Since the government is now advising home working, there is a chance of legionella risks in vacant properties where water is allowed to stagnate within water systems.

As a general principle, outlets on hot and cold-water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and to minimise the chances of stagnation.

To manage the risks during non-occupancy, consideration should be given to implementing a suitable flushing regime or other measures such as draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods see www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/legionella-landlords-responsibilities.

This guidance also applies to workplaces which become less occupied (such as out-patient wards).

In addition, consideration is required of other water systems that are no longer in use, such as leisure, sports and swimming and spa pool facilities.

PHE suggest that for these facilities, you should follow the procedures described in the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group Code of Practice and this can be found at www.pwtag.org/code-of-practice.

Please note that PHE remain on hand to support you with any advice and guidance, so please do not hesitate to contact your local laboratory if you need any advice or support.

Guidance has also been produced by the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious disease on managing Legionella in building water systems during the COVID-19 pandemic, this can be found at www.escmid.org/fileadmin/src/media/PDFs/3Research_Projects/ESGLI/COVId_buidling_water_system_guidance_27_3_20_v4_DS.

Where plant has been closed down all the necessary steps should be taken in keeping with HSG L8 and HSG 274 part 1 to ensure it is properly cleaned and prepared before restarting.

Further advice can be read at www.cieh.org.

Exposure to COVID-19 may present a health risk to workers and other persons at a workplace. Employers should continue to ensure that an appropriate assessment of the risk from COVID-19 in their workplace is carried out and appropriate measures put in place in line with current Public Health guidelines.

These measures should be communicated to all relevant employees and others at the place of work. Control measures will depend on the level of risk and type of workplace and should not reduce the level of protection afforded by existing measures (for example keeping fire doors open to reduce the risk from contaminated door handles creates increased risk. Appropriate regular cleaning and advice on hand hygiene is appropriate).

Where there is a requirement to carry out work at other locations outside of the employer’s workplace, employees should comply with site rules and take into account the wider advice regarding good hygiene practices and separation distances. Consideration should also be given to any other persons who may be affected by their work.

Critically, employers should take into account the most up to date official advice and guidance on how to mitigate the health risk to employees and others at the place of work. Employers are advised to keep up to date on COVID-19 by referring to www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Ensuring your water system is safe

Please read our advice letter on maintaining drinking water quality when reinstating water supplies after temporary closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

HSE recognises the potential challenges when carrying out legal requirements for thorough examination and testing (TE&T) of plant and equipment as a result of additional precautions people need to take to help reduce risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The law for lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations (LOLER) and pressure systems safety regulations (PSSR) remain in place.

The following advice is to help dutyholders (you) ensure that their work plant and equipment remain safe to use. It helps to guide decision making to see if TE&T requirements can still be met which can be accessed at www.hse.gov.uk/news/work-equipment-coronavirus.

Business must continue to report fatal and major injury incidents as soon as is practicable to the Health & Safety Executive. You must report incidents as soon as possible. The best and easiest way to do this is online at www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/report.htm.

The information will be submitted directly to the RIDDOR database and you will receive a copy for your records.

All incidents can be reported online but a telephone service remains for reporting fatal and major injuries only. Call 0845 300 9923 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm). HSE guidance on reporting accidents and incidents at work.

www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/index.htm

Unless there is a direct link between an employee’s work and contracting COVID19 (for example healthcare workers working with infected patients or lab workers working with the virus) there is no statutory requirement to report such cases to the Health and Safety Executive.

Business may have employees whose requalification training (e.g. forklift truck drivers) has recently / will soon expire and there may be no facility to renew this at present. Where this is the case the business must continue to ensure that the person remains competent to do that work. Again, staff should make use of available resources (in house, written or online) to refresh their knowledge where possible. Businesses should be able to describe clearly their reasons for delaying requalification training and demonstrate steps they have taken to undertake the training by other means, if required.

Employers must take steps to ensure that staff who are redeployed to other work due to absences etc. are provided with the necessary information and training to prevent them being injured or made unwell through their new role.

This guidance which can be accessed at www.hse.gov.uk/news/working-safely-during-coronavirus-outbreak is for employers and those who are self-employed and work with or near other people. It may also be useful to workers and their representatives.

During this time of unprecedented disruption, it is important for businesses to operate where it is safe to do so. We understand how important it is to work safely during this time and this guide is designed to help control the risks associated with running your business at this time.

The guidance explains measures you can take to help you carry on working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19), for example by putting in place social distancing measures, staggering shifts, providing additional handwashing facilities and how to talk with workers to help them stay safe.

Further detailed guidance is also available on gov.uk for the following specific work settings:

  • construction and other outdoor work
  • factories, plants and warehouses
  • homes
  • labs and research facilities
  • offices and contact centres
  • restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
  • shops and branches
  • vehicles

Putting in place plans to work safely

The plans businesses put in place mean that work is likely to be organised differently from how it was before lockdown. These guides are designed to help you to know what you can do to control risks associated with running your business during this time. 

These guides should not be used on their own, to decide on the actions that you need to take, but as a starting point to consider what you can do. Further detailed guidance is also available on gov.uk.

A guide to the steps you should take to help manage the risks of coronavirus in your business. These include taking measures to work at home where possible, maintaining social distancing, cleaning and hygiene. 

By consulting and involving people in steps you are taking to manage the risk of coronavirus in your workplace you can:

  • explain the changes you are planning to work safely
  • make sure changes will work and hear their ideas
  • continue to operate your business safely during the outbreak

You should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and the government expects all employers with over 50 workers to do so).

You can find a notice to download, print and display in your workplace to show you have followed this guidance at gov.uk.

Need further help or information?

Contact the team directly on 01773 841335 or email es-regulation@ambervalley.gov.uk