Health and safety guidance to help businesses operate safely during Covid-19
|Roadmap out of lockdown||Covid-19 testing|
|Business support webinars||Outbreaks and cases resource pack|
|Covid-19 - Accidents and reporting||Reporting an outbreak of Covid-19|
|Covid-19 Secure business sector guidance||Keeping records of staff, customers and visitors|
|Other sector guidance||Risk assessment for coronavirus|
|Screening/barriers in the premises||Signage in the premises|
|Social distancing by business sector||Ventilation and air conditioning|
|Returns and donations in shops||Hospitality|
|Food safety guidance for businesses||Making your workplace Covid-Secure|
|National lockdown guidance||Events|
|I have a question or need to report a concern|
Suffolk Growth Partnership have arranged FREE webinars to support local businesses within the retail, hospitality and leisure sector prepare for safe reopening. Please check their website for upcoming webinars and information.
On Monday 22 February, the Prime Minister made a statement in the House of Commons outlining a preliminary roadmap to lift the national lockdown in England.
Help stop the spread of Covid-19 by getting tested to see if you have the virus. In Suffolk, there are two types of test that you can take to see if you have Covid-19:
National workplace testing
Workplace testing is now available to all businesses, including those with fewer than 50 employees.
Businesses are encouraged to register their interest by 31 March 2021 to access free workplace testing.
Regular testing will be a vital part of the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease restrictions.
An online portal has been launched for businesses to find out more about offering rapid workplace testing. Businesses will be provided with all the information they need to plan and deliver their testing programme, along with promotional materials.
All local authorities in England are now offering rapid lateral flow testing for small businesses if they cannot offer rapid workplace testing. Businesses can find their local test site online.
The government recently launched a new scheme for employers to sign up and display a sticker to show they offer regular Covid-19 testing to their staff:
When to make a RIDDOR report because of coronavirus (COVID-19)
You only need to make a report under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) if:
The Government has published documents covering different business sectors setting out what small business owners can do to ensure their businesses protect employees and customers against Covid-19. They call this being 'Covid-19 secure' and small businesses can display badging that they have followed the guidance. Businesses must display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can check-in at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details. The business sectors covered are:
Government guidance is available for the hospitality industry:
By law, staff and customers of venues that provide food and drink will be required to wear a face covering, unless they have an exemption. By law all businesses must remind customers and staff to wear a face covering where required (for example by displaying posters). You are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it.
Face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments. Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and for customers in a number of indoor premises including at pubs, bars, restaurants, cafés and takeaways. Face coverings may be removed when seated to eat or drink in a pub, bar, restaurant or café. You must put a face covering back on once you finish eating or drinking.
Businesses should take reasonable steps to encourage customer compliance for example through in store communications or notices at the entrance. If necessary, police can issue fines to members of the public for non-compliance. Businesses will not be required to provide face coverings for their customers.
Employers must ensure all staff of venues that provide food and drink wear face coverings in areas that are open to the public and where they come or are likely to come within close contact of a member of the public, unless they have an exemption.
Employers must not, by law, prevent their staff from wearing a face covering where they are required to do so. Where face coverings are required for staff, businesses are expected to provide these as part of their health and safety obligations. However, staff are welcome to use their own face coverings if they choose.
If businesses have taken steps to create a physical barrier or screen between workers and members of the public then staff behind the barrier or screen will not be required to wear a face covering. Enforcement action can be taken if barriers and screens are in place which do not adequately mitigate risks.
Businesses already have legal obligations to protect their staff under existing employment law. This means taking appropriate steps to provide a safe working environment, which may include providing face coverings where appropriate, alongside other mitigations such as screens and social distancing. Businesses should advise workers how to use face coverings safely. This means telling workers:
There are some places where you must wear a face covering by law. Different rules exist in different parts of the UK. In the context of the Covid-19 outbreak, a face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face. Visors may not be used in place of an appropriate face covering. The government guidance on face coverings does not allow the option of wearing a visor or face shield instead. In England, you must wear a face covering in the following indoor settings:
You are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it. More detailed advice on the application of these requirements in different settings can be found in the Government’s guidance for working safely.
You should also wear a face covering in indoor places not listed here where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Face coverings are needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are also advised to be worn in care homes.
The Department for Education has updated its guidance on the use of face coverings for schools and other education institutions that teach people in Years 7 and above in England. There are some exemptions and circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering.
In settings where face coverings are required in England there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances. Some people are less able to wear face coverings, and the reasons for this may not be visible to others. This includes (but is not limited to):
There are also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering:
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 because of the conditions that the lockdown may have created. Guidance has been specially written by the CIEH for businesses so that they know about the risk and what to do about it before reopening their business. If your business is or has been required to close for any period of time, please ensure you make plans to carry out regular checks and flushes of the system to prevent Legionella.
Employers and self-employed people need to carry out a risk assessment to identify what needs to be done to protect workers and others from the risk of coronavirus. When carrying out the risk assessment you need to:
If you have fewer than five employees, you do not have to write anything down, but it is good practice if you do.
The Government Better Business For All (a partnership between business and regulatory bodies) has created their Covid-19 Toolkit - considerations for restarting your business safely.
At counters and workstations where it is not always possible to maintain social distancing, then consider using screens. Any screen that is used, needs to be of suitable size (height and width) to provide an effective barrier between people. Screens also need to be securely fixed. It is important that where screens are used, they are regularly sanitised.
Signs at entrances and at appropriate locations in a premises can help people understand what they need to do to maintain their own and others safety whilst in a premises. A Workplace Risk Assessment for coronavirus (COVID-19) can help to identify what signs are needed and where to place them. Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can check-in at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details. Create a Coronavirus NHS QR code for your premises.
Examples of free to use signs:
The aim is to maintain wherever possible 2m social distancing and to minimise the need for contact with people to who are not employed by the business. This will include customers, contractors, maintenance, and delivery people.
Government guidance says that stores should limit customer handling of merchandise, for example, through different display methods, new signage or rotation of high-touch stock.
However, items will be returned to shops, charity shops will receive donated items and some shops may receive items for repair. The guidance says that the store could set up ‘no contact’ return procedures where customers take return goods to a designated area. These returned or donated items should be stored in a container or separate room for 72 hours. The items should then be cleaned with usual cleaning products before display on the shop floor. Materials used for cleaning can be disposed of normally.
The UK Government has lots of guidance for businesses to help them ensure they are Covid-Secure.
This encourages businesses to carry out a risk assessment and helps to identify the workplace adjustments that they should make. Employers have the legal responsibility to protect their employees and other people on site, such as customers and visitors. The guidance will help businesses to easily find out what they should do. Employees can also use this to check what their workplace needs to do to keep people safe.
If the number of persons involved in the event is restricted to 499 people, you will be able to operate under a temporary event notice (TEN) but if you are proposing a larger event it would need a full premises licence which involves a significantly longer application process.
In order for the event to operate safely it must be run in accordance with the relevant guidance to control the spread of Coronavirus and also comply with all the other health and safety requirements under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974:
You will need the landowner’s permission so if you are intending to use East Suffolk Council land you will need to apply for an event on council land. Part of that application will require you to submit an event management plan and risk assessment which will be passed to the Safety Advisory Group for them to consider. They will contact you if there are any issues that the group feels require addressing to ensure the event is managed safely.
It is recommended that you contact us to engage with the East Suffolk Safety Advisory Group (SAG) at the early stages of your planning. SAG will review plans for events that are perceived to pose a significant risk either due to the size, type location etc of events, to allow the relevant regulatory agencies (police, fire, ambulance, local authority etc) to gain intelligence prior to any event, to allow for emergency planning and advise each other on any areas of concern. SAG will liaise with Suffolk County Council Public Health department, if there are concerns about the transmission of Coronavirus associated with the event. The group will also advise the event organiser (duty holder) of ways in which they can manage the event safely.
The law requires employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air is present in the workplace and this has not changed during the pandemic. Good ventilation, together with social distancing, keeping your workplace clean and frequent handwashing, can all help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. As we open more indoor settings within Step 3, good ventilation becomes an important factor in reducing the concentration of the virus in the air and therefore reduces the risks from airborne transmission.
Providing adequate ventilation does not mean that workplaces have to be cold. Good ventilation is a balance between making sure workplaces are warm but keeping a flow of air going through an area. Simple steps, such as partially opening windows, can improve ventilation and be used in combination with heating systems. The more people who occupy an area that is poorly ventilated, and the longer they remain, the greater the risk of transmission. Singing, shouting and aerobic activities generate higher levels of aerosol which may contain the virus and increase the risk of transmission further, so consider these factors when ensuring you have adequate ventilation. The following guidelines can help you improve ventilation in your workplace depending on the existing ventilation you have:
Natural ventilation can be provided through open windows, or through other means such as external vents. However, fire doors should not be propped open. It is important not to completely close windows and doors when the area is occupied as this can result in very low levels of ventilation. Opening higher-level windows is also likely to generate fewer draughts. It is worth airing rooms as frequently as you can when they are unoccupied or between uses as this helps maximise air changes.
Mechanical ventilation and air conditioning which brings fresh air into a building is useful but be aware that some systems only recirculate air and do not introduce fresh air, these are not so good as they can mask poor ventilation and even concentrate the virus in some areas. Desk or ceiling fans can be used, provided the area is well ventilated but they should not be used in poorly ventilated areas.
Local air cleaning and filtration units can be used to reduce airborne transmission where it isn’t possible to maintain adequate ventilation. Filtration systems, high-efficiency filters and ultraviolet-based devices are the most suitable types to use. They should be the correct size for the area they are being used in.
Ventilation systems within vehicles which are carrying passengers from different households should be set to drawing in fresh air and not recirculating air. To improve ventilation further, windows can also be opened, and heating used to compensate for the additional flow of cold air. Airing the vehicle by opening the doors and windows wide, where it is safe to do so, will also help to change air quickly between passengers.
If you didn’t find the answer to your query within this information, additional guidance can be found on the Gov.uk website.
Alternatively, you can complete a brief enquiry form to inform us what further guidance you need or what concerns you wish to report. We will try and contact you within 7 working days or sooner wherever possible.