About this tool and advice

Every workplace is unique, the checklist below is only there as a summary of the recent announcements from the government. You will need to ensure that you are aware of specifics for your workplace and keep up to date with any changes.

1. Can I open my business or not?

Please select your type of business:

Your business may be able to open

Food and drink, Retail, Accommodation, Non-residential institutions, Assembly and leisure and Outdoor recreation operations are closed to members of the public

Legal exceptions have been set out by the government.

Click here to find out more

Your business can open

Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines.

Read the Public Health England guidelines



2. Before opening, have you carried out a risk assessment?

Has a risk assessment been conducted?

Yes - a risk assessment has been completed

All businesses should risk assess their operations for any risks to their employees. This should now include any risk of infection of COVID-19. If a business employs more than 5 people, their risk assessment should be written down.

Remember - employers have a duty to consult with their employees about their risk assessment.

Find out more about risk assessments here

No - a risk assessment has not been completed

All businesses should risk assess their operations for any risks to their employees. This should now include any risk of infection of COVID-19. If a business employs more than 5 people, their risk assessment should be written down.

Remember - employers have a duty to consult with their employees about their risk assessment.

Find out more about risk assessments here



3. Working from home

Remember - businesses should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home and only consider opening operations if they can’t.

Are staff able to work from home?

Yes - staff are able work from home

There are some specific duties businesses will have regarding home working. Employers will need to:

  1. Provide staff with the right equipment
  2. Keep in touch with staff who are working from home
  3. Monitor the wellbeing and personal security of staff

If employers can't meet these, they will need to consider the minimum number of people they will need onsite to operate safely and effectively.

No - Staff are unable to work from home

Employers will need to consider the minimum number of people they will need onsite to operate safely and effectively.



4. Clinically extremely vulnerable staff

Staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable or are told to self-isolate should not be brought back to the workplace.

Find out who is 'clinically extremely vulnerable'

Do you have any clinically extremely vulnerable employees?

Yes - One or more staff are clinically extremely vulnerable or have been told to self-isolate

If staff are unable to carry out their role from home, employers need to consider if their staff can take on other role that will allow them to carry on working from home.

Remember - the equality act still applies, employers must consider if you the steps they are considering have an unjustifiably negative impact on a person with a protected characteristic.

No - No staff are clinically extremely vulnerable or have been told to self-isolate

Employers should ensure the safety of all employees and following relevant social distancing guidance. Remember - businesses should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home and only consider opening operations if they can’t.



5. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Does your workplace risk assessment currently include Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)?

Yes - the workplace risk assessment currently includes Personal Protection Equipment for staff

Employers should continue to provide their employees with PPE for the high-risk activities identified in their risk assessments (conducted prior to the COVID-19 outbreak). 

Employers should also put further actions in place to protect staff and slow the spread of COVID-19, through implementing social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering.

If an organisation’s risk assessment identifies that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high and shows that PPE is required, then employers must provide this free of charge to the employees who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

A face covering (as opposed to a face mask) is not considered PPE and can be used by employees to prevent them spreading a possible infection to others. There is currently no law requiring a face covering in enclosed spaces.

Click here for details of how to improvise or make a face covering 

If employees have chosen to wear face coverings, below is some guidance on how to support them: 

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it.
  • When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands.
  • Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it.
  • Continue to wash your hands regularly.
  • Change and wash your face covering daily.
  • If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it in your usual waste.
  • Practise social distancing wherever possible.

(source gov.uk)

No - the workplace risk assessment doesn't currently include Personal Protection Equipment for staff

Unless Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) was identified as required in an organisation’s risk assessment (conducted prior to the COVID-19 outbreak), employers should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE. Employers should put actions in place to protect staff and slow the spread of COVID-19, through implementing social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering.

If an organisation’s risk assessment identifies that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high and shows that PPE is required, then employers must provide this free of charge to the employees who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

A face covering (as opposed to a face mask) is not considered PPE and can be used by employees to prevent them spreading a possible infection to others. There is currently no law requiring a face covering in enclosed spaces.

Click here for details of how to improvise or make a face covering 

If employees have chosen to wear face coverings, below is some guidance on how to support them:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it.
  • When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands.
  • Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it.
  • Continue to wash your hands regularly.
  • Change and wash your face covering daily.
  • If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it in your usual waste.
  • Practise social distancing wherever possible.

(source gov.uk)

Workplace social distancing

Now that you have identified who as an absolute minimum should be in your workplace, you must now consider how you can keep them safe by introducing social distancing. You should consider your operations, workspace and decide how can you ensure the essential people you are bringing into the workplace can maintain a 2m distance. You need to consider the following:

  1. leaving-office

    First consider people coming to and leaving work

    • Can you stagger start and finish times?
    • Can you provide more bike racks and parking spaces to limit people using public transport?
    • Can you open more entry and exit points to your workplace?
    • Can you introduce a one-way flow at entry and exit points?
    • Can you reduce bottlenecks at entrances such as turning off turnstiles?
  2. staff-walking

    Now consider movement within your workplace

    • Can you discourage, reduce or restrict movement between floors and different buildings on site?
    • Can you introduce a one-way system within your workplace?
    • Can you limit lift use to only those who will specifically need it such as those with disabilities?
    • Can you reduce bottlenecks which prevent 2m distancing such as busy corridors?
  3. desk

    How are workstations or desks arranged in your workplace

    • Can you reduce the distance between workstations?
    • Where you can’t, can you introduce screens between workstations or get people to avoid face-to-face working such as side-to-side or back-to-back?
    • Can you avoid hot desking? If not, can you introduce a cleaning regime between users?
  4. workplace

    Think about common areas

    • Where you are in a multi-tenant site you should work with your landlord and other tenants to come up with a building wide approach to common areas
    • Can you stagger break times or encourage break times to be taken outside?
    • Can you open other parts of the building to increase the space available for employees to take their breaks?
    • Encourage workers to bring in their own food or provide pre-packaged food rather than have a staff canteen
    • Can you reduce face-to-face interaction or introduce screens for busy areas like reception or customer service desks?
    • Consider regulating the use of locker rooms and showers.
  5. Clean

    At all times you should consider improving the provision of handwashing facilities in your workplace

    • You should also look at increasing the frequency of surface cleaning especially where multiple people will be in contact with that surface
    • Hand sanitizers or hand washing facilities should be provided at key points around the buildings including, entry and exits, common areas, meeting rooms and places where members of the public have access
    • You should raise the awareness of the importance of handwashing to your staff.

      Click here to view a NHS handwashing guidance video 

     

  6. safe

    You should also consider the way you work and see if there are ways you can reduce the chance of infection between colleagues

    • Consider changing shift patterns to reduce the number of people in the workplace
    • Introduce cohort or fixed teams’ approach where people are only allowed to work or be in the same space with the same people
    • Reduce all work travel down to the absolute essential
    • Reduce number of people who use shared transport or wash down vehicles between use when shared with other people.
    • Make sure you provide regular, clear and consistent messaging and communication to your employees
    • Consider where you receive inbound and outbound goods
    • Make sure visitors to your workplace are kept to a minimum and that when people do visit they are restricted to only those they are visiting
    • Do you employ people who are clinically vulnerable? If so you should consider moving them onto tasks that they can do from home or to an area of the building that reduces contact with other people.
  7. driving

    You will need to consider aspects of the service you provide which may have particular needs

    • If you provide a shop there is specific advice for you - link
    • If you go into someone else’s home there is specific advice for you - link
    • If you have people who regularly work in vehicles such delivering goods or regularly use work vehicles – link

      The government's full guidance document can be found below.

      Working safely during COVID-19 outbreak guidance 

     

  8. communication

    Communicate with your employees and customers about the steps you have taken

    • If you employ more than 50 people you should publish your risk assessment on your website
    • Employers should display a HSE poster in their workplace to show they have taken steps to ensure their workplace is COVID-19 secure

      Download the HSE COVID-19 poster here 

Authorship

Page review date: May 2020

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