Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

On 11th May 2020 the Government published further guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. There are 8 guides which cover a range of different types of work and include construction and outdoor work, factories, plants and warehouses, labs and research facilities, offices and contact centres, other peoples homes, restaurants offering takeaway or delivery, shops and branches and vehicles. Although business should read those guides relevant to their workplace, all the guidance focuses on 5 main points which are:

  1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
  2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures
  3. Help people to work from home
  4. Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible
  5. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage the transmission risk

Additional guidance has been produced by the HSE which helps Employers identify relevant issues which they should consider as part of their risk assessments where employees are proposing to return to work. The HSE make it clear that “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”, therefore every employer will need to ensure and satisfy themselves that the measures they have taken are appropriate so as to properly manage the risk of coronavirus in their workplace.

On the 9th May 2020 the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation produced a Return to Work Safely Protocol which is “designed to support employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace when the economy begins to slowly open up, following the temporary closure of most businesses during the worst phase of the current pandemic. The Protocol should be used by all workplaces to adapt their workplace procedures and practices to comply fully with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures identified as necessary by the HSE”.

Before restarting work you should ensure the safety of the workplace by:

  • carrying out a risk assessment in line with the HSE guidance
  • consulting with your workers or trade unions
  • sharing the results of the risk assessment with your workforce and on your website

It identifies issues employers should consider when assessing risk and potential control measures.

Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak

This guidance 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 the coronavirus (COVID 19) outbreak, it is important for businesses to operate where it is safe to do so. This guidance is designed to help you work safely and 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 (sometimes known as being ‘COVID secure’), 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.

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