Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Construction and other outdoor work

Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.

Applies to: England (see guidance for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland)

National restrictions apply in England from 5 November. People should stay at home where possible and should only travel to work if they cannot work from home.

Find out about the new restrictions and what you can and cannot do.

Please read the priority actions and full guidance below.

Priority actions to take - what businesses need to do to protect staff and customers

Seven steps to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during coronavirus.

  1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Share it with all your staff. Find out how to do a risk assessment.

  2. Clean more often. Increase how often you clean surfaces, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your staff, customers, visitors or contractors to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.

  3. Ask your customers or visitors to wear face coverings where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your customers or visitors are likely to be around people they do not normally meet. Some exemptions apply. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.

  4. Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one-way system that your staff and visitors can follow.

  5. Increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times.

  6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all staff, customers, visitors and contractors for 21 days. From 18 September, this will be enforced in law. Some exemptions apply. Check ‘Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace’ for details.

  7. Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If a staff member (or someone in their household) or a visitor has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating. By law from 28 September employers must not require someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

Five more things to be aware of if your business provides construction and other outdoor work:

  • Reduce crowding. Consider how many people can be in each space while remaining socially distanced and how to prevent crowding in busy areas. Consider separating the site into smaller zones to keep groups separate.
  • Work with the same team every day. Use fixed teams or shift patterns to reduce the number of people each person comes into contact with.
  • Arrange work spaces to keep staff apart. Consider using barriers to separate staff, introduce back-to-back or side-to-side working, and spread out workstations.
  • Clean shared equipment. Clean shared tools and machinery frequently and limit the number of people who use them.
  • Communicate and train. Make sure all workers, contractors and visitors are kept up to date with how safety measures are being used and updated.

These are the priority actions to make your business safe during coronavirus. You should also read the full version of the guidance below.

Introduction

The UK is currently experiencing a public health emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is critical that employers, employees and the self-employed take steps to keep everyone safe. This document is to help employers, employees and the self-employed in the UK understand how to work safely during this pandemic, ensuring as many people as possible comply with social distancing guidelines (2m apart, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable). We hope it gives you a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart, operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand how important it is to work safely and support your workers’ and visitors’ health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and not contribute to the spread of the virus. The government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace and the health and safety of workers and visitors, and public health, should not be put at risk.

We know many people are also keen to return to or contribute to volunteering. Organisations have a duty of care to volunteers to ensure as far as reasonably practicable they are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. This guidance around working safely during COVID- 19 should ensure that volunteers are afforded the same level of protection to their health and safety as others, such as workers and visitors.

This document has been prepared by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with input from firms, unions, industry bodies and the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Public health is devolved in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; this guidance should be considered alongside local public health and safety requirements and legislation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. For advice to businesses in other parts of the UK please see guidance set by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government, and the Welsh Government.

We expect that this document will be updated over time. This version is up to date as of 5 November 2020. You can check for updates at www.gov.uk/workingsafely. If you have any feedback for us, please email safer.workplaces@beis.gov.uk.

This document is one of a set of documents about how to work safely in different types of workplace. This one is designed to be relevant for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.

How to use this guidance

This document sets out guidance on how to open workplaces safely while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19. It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in the workplace.

Each business will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of their business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated. They will also need to monitor these measures to make sure they continue to protect visitors and workers.

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. It contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees.

To help you decide which actions to take, you must carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other health and safety related hazards. This risk assessment must be done in consultation with unions or workers.

What do we mean by ‘construction and other outdoor work’?

Working outdoors includes many people in:

  • construction
  • energy and utilities
  • farming and agriculture (including seasonal labour)
  • forestry
  • waste management and other infrastructure
  • railway services
  • street and highway services

1. Thinking about risk

In this section

Objective: That all employers carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.

COVID-19 is a public health emergency. Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19, and in particular businesses should consider the risks to their workers and visitors. Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19. As an employer, you also have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19.

You must make sure that the risk assessment for your business addresses the risks of COVID-19, using this guidance to inform your decisions and control measures. Considering the security implications of any changes you intend to make to your operations and practices in response to COVID 19, as any revisions may present new or altered security risks which may need mitigations. A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. If you have fewer than 5 workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. The Health and Safety Executive has guidance for business on how to manage risk and risk assessment at work along with specific advice to help control the risk of coronavirus in workplaces.

Employers have a duty to consult their people on health and safety. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from COVID-19. The people who do the work are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely. You are encouraged to have individual discussions with your workers where reasonable, to consider any uncertainties they have about precautions in place to make the workplace COVID-secure. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take. Involving them in making decisions shows that you take their health and safety seriously. You must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers. As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be.

At its most effective, full involvement of your workers creates a culture where relationships between employers and workers are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem solving. As is normal practice, workers should be involved in assessing workplace risks and the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership with the employer.

Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues. If concerns still cannot be resolved, see below for further steps you can take.

Where the enforcing authority, such as the HSE or your local authority, identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they are empowered to take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. These actions include closure of venues under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020. For example, this would cover employers not taking appropriate action to ensure social distancing, where possible.

Failure to complete a risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19, or completing a risk assessment but failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19, could constitute a breach of health and safety law. The actions the enforcing authority can take include the provision of specific advice to employers to support them to achieve the required standard, through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements. Serious breaches and failure to comply with enforcement notices can constitute a criminal offence, with serious fines and even imprisonment for up to 2 years. There is also a wider system of enforcement, which includes specific obligations and conditions for licensed premises.

Employers are expected to respond to any advice or notices issued by enforcing authorities rapidly and are required to do so within any timescales imposed by the enforcing authorities. The vast majority of employers are responsible and will join with the UK’s fight against COVID-19 by working with the government and their sector bodies to protect their workers and the public. However, inspectors are carrying out compliance checks nationwide to ensure that employers are taking the necessary steps.

How to raise a concern:

  • contact your employee representative
  • contact your trade union if you have one
  • contact HSE at:

HSE COVID-19 enquiries
Telephone: 0300 790 6787 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm)
Online: working safely enquiry form

1.1 Managing risk

Objective: To reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures, in order of priority

Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. Employers must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace so that everybody’s health and safety is protected. In the context of COVID-19 this means protecting the health and safety of your workers and visitors by working through these steps in order:

  1. Ensuring both workers and visitors who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the premises. By law from 28 September businesses may not require a self-isolating employee to come into work.

  2. In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.

  3. Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to ensure their employees can work safely. Anyone who can work from home should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work, if COVID-19 Secure guidelines are followed closely. When in the workplace, everyone should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

  4. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity can be redesigned to maintain a 2m distance or 1m with risk mitigations.

    Further mitigating actions include:

    – further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
    – keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
    – using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
    – using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
    – reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

  5. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, even through redesigning a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.

  6. Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are strongly advised to work from home during the period of national restrictions. If they cannot work from home, they should not attend work for this period.

  7. You should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission, particularly from aerosol transmission. We will develop further guidance, based on scientific evidence, to enable these activities as soon as possible.

  8. Finally, if people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.

    In your assessment you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

It is also important that people from different households or support bubbles meeting in a single group remain socially distanced. Read further information on social contact rules, social distancing and the exemptions that exist. These rules will not apply to workplaces or education settings, alongside other exemptions.

The recommendations in the rest of this document are ones you must consider as you go through this process. You could also consider any advice that has been produced specifically for your sector, for example by trade associations or trades unions.

If you are currently operating, you will already have carried out an assessment of the risks posed by COVID-19 in your workplace. Use this document to identify any further improvements you should make. You must review the measures you have put in place to make sure they are working. You should also review them if they may no longer be effective or if there are changes in the workplace that could lead to new risks.

1.2 Sharing the results of your risk assessment

You must share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and we would expect all businesses with over 50 workers to do so). We would expect all businesses to demonstrate to their workers and customers that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate measures to mitigate this. You should do this by displaying a notification in a prominent place in your business and on your website, if you have one.

Below you will find a notice you should sign and display in your workplace to show you have followed this guidance.

2. Who should go to work

In this section

Objective: Employers should ensure workplaces are safe for anyone who cannot work from home. It is recognised that the nature of work in this environment will make it difficult for many workers to work remotely or from home.

In order to keep the virus under control, it is important that people work safely. At the present time, anyone who can work from home should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed closely. Employers should consult with their employees to determine who needs to come into the workplace. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk. When employers consider that workers should come into their place of work then this will need to be reflected in the COVID-19 workplace risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Considering the maximum number of people who can be safely accommodated on site.

  2. Monitoring the wellbeing of people who are working from home and helping them stay connected to those operating in an outdoor environment, especially if the majority of their colleagues are on-site.

  3. Keeping in touch with off-site workers on their working arrangements including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security.

  4. Providing equipment for people to work from home safely and effectively, for example, remote access to work systems.

2.1 Protecting people who are at higher risk

Objective: To support those who are at a higher risk of infection and/or an adverse outcome if infected.

The Public Health England report ‘Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19’ shows that some groups of people may be at more risk of being infected and/or an adverse outcome if infected.

The higher-risk groups include those who:

  • are older males
  • have a high body mass index (BMI)
  • have health conditions such as diabetes
  • are from some Black, Asian or minority ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds

You should consider this in your risk assessment.

Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are strongly advised to work from home. If they cannot work from home, they should not attend work for this period of restrictions. Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals who cannot attend work for this reason may be eligible for support. See the current guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable.

Those living with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves can still attend work if they cannot work from home, in line with the wider rules set out in the new National Restrictions from 5 November.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include advice or telephone support.

  2. See current guidance for advice on who is in the clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable groups.

2.2 People who need to self-isolate

Objective: To make sure individuals who are advised to stay at home under existing government guidance to stop infection spreading do not physically come to work. This includes individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19, those who live in a household or are in a support bubble with someone who has symptoms and those who are advised to self-isolate as part of the government’s test and trace service.

Steps that will usually be needed

  1. Enabling workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate. By law, from 28 September employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

  2. See current guidance for employees and employers relating to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19.

  3. Ensuring any workers who have symptoms of COVID-19-a high temperature, new and persistent cough or anosmia-however mild, should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when the symptoms started. Workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate for at least 10 days starting from the day the test was taken. Where a worker has tested positive while not experiencing symptoms but develops symptoms during the isolation period, they should restart the 10-day isolation period from the day the symptoms developed. This only applies to those who begin their isolation on or after 30 July.

  4. See current guidance for people who have symptoms and those who live with others who have symptoms.

  5. Ensuring any workers who have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace follows the requirement to self-isolate. See current guidance for those who have been in contact with, but do not live with, a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

2.3 Equality in the workplace

Objective: To make sure that nobody is discriminated against.

In applying this guidance, employers should be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals.

It is breaking the law to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex or disability, race or ethnicity.

Employers also have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers and those who are new or expectant mothers.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Understanding and taking into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics.

  2. Involving and communicating appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either expose them to a different degree of risk, or might make any steps you are thinking about inappropriate or challenging for them.

  3. Considering whether you need to put in place any particular measures or adjustments to take account of your duties under the equalities legislation.

  4. Making reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage, and assessing the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers.

  5. Making sure that the steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments.

3. Social distancing for workers

In this section

Objective: Ensuring workers maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable), wherever possible, including arriving at and departing from work, while in work and when travelling between sites.

You must maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible.

Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity can be redesigned to maintain a 2m distance or 1m with risk mitigations where 2m is not viable.

Mitigating actions include:

  • further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, even through redesigning a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between staff.

Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing and workers should be specifically reminded.

3.1 Coming to work and leaving work

Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible, on arrival and departure and to ensure handwashing upon arrival.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Staggering arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace, taking account of the impact on those with protected characteristics.

  2. Providing additional parking or facilities such as bike-racks to help people walk, run, or cycle to work where possible.

  3. Limiting passengers in corporate vehicles, for example, work minibuses. This could include leaving seats empty.

  4. Reducing congestion, for example, by having more entry points to the workplace.

  5. Using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points.

  6. Providing handwashing facilities (or hand sanitiser where not possible) at entry and exit points and not using touch-based securtiy devices such as keypads where possible.

  7. Maintaining use of security access devices, such as keypads or passes, and adjusting processes at entry/exit points to reduce risk of transmission. For example, cleaning pass readers regularly and asking staff to hold their passes next to pass readers rather than touching them.

  8. See government guidance on travelling to and from work.

3.2 Moving around buildings and worksites

Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible, while people travel through the workplace.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reducing movement by discouraging non-essential trips within buildings and sites. For example, restricting access to some areas, encouraging use of telephones or other electronic devices, where permitted, and cleaning them between use.

  2. Reducing job rotation and equipment rotation, for example, single tasks for the day.

  3. Implementing one-way systems where possible on walkways around the workplace.

  4. Using signage such as ground markings or being creative with other objects to help people comply with social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable), to allow controlled flows of people moving throughout the site.

  5. Reducing occupancy of vehicles used for onsite travel, for example, shuttle buses, and when needed, social distancing measures should be followed within the vehicles.

  6. Separating sites into working zones to keep different groups of workers physically separated as much as practical.

  7. Planning site access and ‘area of safety’ points to enable social distancing.

  8. Reducing the number of people in attendance at site inductions and consider holding them outdoors wherever possible with social distancing.

  9. Managing use of high traffic areas including corridors, lifts, turnstiles and walkways to maintain social distancing.

3.3 Making the main workplace safe for people who work statically

Objective: To maintain social distancing between people who work in one place.

It is recognised that in outdoor workplaces it might be rare to have a fixed or static place of work. However, there may be some situations where this is the case.

For people who work in one place, workstations should allow them to maintain social distancing wherever possible.

Workstations should be assigned to an individual as much as possible. If they need to be shared, they should be shared by the smallest possible number of people.

If it is not possible to ensure workstations comply with social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable), then businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so take all mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reviewing layouts and processes to allow staff to work further apart from each other.

  2. Only where it is not possible to move workstations further apart, arranging people to work side by side or facing away from each other rather than face-to-face.

  3. Only where it is not possible to move workstations further apart, using screens to separate people from each other.

  4. Using a consistent pairing system if workers have to be in close proximity, for example, during two-person working, lifting or maintenance activities that cannot be redesigned.

3.4 Meetings

Objective: To reduce transmission due to face-to-face meetings and maintain social distancing in meetings.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Using remote working tools to avoid in-person meetings.

  2. Only absolutely necessary participants should physically attend meetings and should maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

  3. Avoiding transmission during meetings, for example, avoid sharing pens, documents and or other objects.

  4. Providing hand sanitiser in meeting rooms.

  5. Holding meetings outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms whenever possible.

  6. For areas where regular meetings take place, use floor signage to help people maintain social distancing.

3.5 Common areas

Objective: To maintain social distancing while using common areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Staggering break times to reduce pressure on break rooms or places to eat and ensuring social distancing is maintained in staff break rooms.

  2. Using safe outdoor areas for breaks.

  3. Creating additional space by using other parts of the workplace freed up by remote working.

  4. Reconfiguring seating and tables to maintain spacing and reduce face-to-face interactions.

3.6 Accidents, security and other incidents

Objective: To prioritise safety during incidents.

In an emergency, for example, an accident, provision of first aid, fire, break-in or trespass, people do not have to comply with social distancing guidelines if it would be unsafe.

People involved in the provision of assistance to others should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards, including washing hands.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reviewing your incident and emergency procedures to ensure they reflect the social distancing principles as far as possible.

  2. Considering the security implications of any changes you intend to make to your operations and practices in response to COVID-19, as any revisions may present new or altered security risks which may need mitigations.

  3. Following government guidance on managing security risks.

4. Managing your customers, visitors and contractors

In this section

4.1 Manage contacts

Objective: To minimise the number of unnecessary visits to the worksite.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Where site visits are required, site guidance on social distancing and hygiene should be explained to visitors on or before arrival.

  2. Encouraging visits via remote connection/working where this is an option.

  3. Limiting the number of visitors at any one time.

  4. Determine if schedules for essential services and contractor visits can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people.

  5. Maintaining a record of all visitors, if this is practical.

  6. Encouraging visitors to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the site.

4.2 Providing and explaining available guidance

Objective: To make sure people understand what they need to do to maintain safety.

Ensuring public notices are visible and help inform workers, customers, visitors, contractors and the public to maintain social distancing while near the workplace.

There is a high likelihood in some areas that working outdoors will draw the attention of the public. Visible signage may be used to inform the public of the type of work that is being performed.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing signage to inform the public on what work you are doing.

  2. Providing signage at entrances to the worksite to remind the public and workers to maintain social distancing.

  3. Providing signage on rights of way that cross your workplace to remind the public to maintain social distancing.

  4. Establishing host responsibilities relating to COVID-19, providing any necessary training for people who act as hosts for visitors.

  5. Informing visitors that they should be prepared to remove face coverings if asked to do so by police officers and staff for the purposes of identification.

  6. Ensuring information provided to visitors, such as advice on the location or size of queues, does not compromise their safety.

5. Cleaning the workplace

In this section

5.1 Before reopening

Objective: To make sure that any site or location that has been closed or partially operated is clean and ready to restart, including:

  • conducting a risk assessment for all sites, or part of sites, that have been closed, before restarting work
  • carrying out cleaning procedures and providing hand sanitiser, before restarting work

5.2 Keeping your workplace clean

Objective: To keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products.

  2. Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including buckets, site equipment and control panels, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products.

  3. Clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the work area at the end of shift.

  4. Sanitisation of all hand tools, controls, machinery and equipment after use.

  5. If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then you should refer to the specific guidance.

  6. Providing extra non recycling bins for workers and visitors to dispose of single use face coverings and PPE. You should refer to guidance for information on how to dispose of personal or business waste, including face coverings and PPE.

5.3 Hygiene: handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets

Objective: To help everyone keep good hygiene through the working day.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing additional handwashing facilities, for example, pop-ups, particularly on a large site or where there are significant numbers of personnel on site.

  2. Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available.

  3. Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.

  4. Providing hand sanitisers in multiple locations in addition to washrooms.

  5. Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible.

  6. Enhancing cleaning for busy areas.

  7. Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets.

  8. Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

  9. Providing hand drying facilities – paper towels, continuous roller towels or electrical driers.

  10. Keeping the facilities well ventilated, for example by fixing doors open where appropriate.

5.4 Changing rooms and showers

Objective: To minimise the risk of transmission in changing rooms and showers.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Where shower and changing facilities are required, setting clear use and cleaning guidance for showers, lockers and changing rooms to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that social distancing is achieved as much as possible.

  2. Introducing enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day.

5.5 Handling equipment, materials, waste, and onsite vehicles

Objective: To reduce transmission through contact with objects that come into the workplace and vehicles at the worksite.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Cleaning procedures for the parts of shared equipment you touch after each use, thinking about equipment, tools and vehicles, for example, pallet trucks and forklift trucks.

  2. Encouraging increased handwashing and introducing more handwashing facilities for workers handling goods and merchandise or providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical.

  3. Regular cleaning of vehicles that workers may take home.

  4. Regular cleaning of reusable delivery boxes.

6. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings

In this section

PPE protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment, such as face masks.

Where you are already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.

At the start of this document we described the steps you need to take to manage COVID-19 risk in the workplace. This includes maintaining social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable). When managing the risks of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear will not be beneficial in the majority of workplaces. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering. The exception is clinical settings, like a hospital, or a small handful of other roles for which Public Health England advises use of PPE.

The exception is clinical settings, like a hospital, or a small handful of other roles for which Public Health England advises use of PPE, for example, first responders and immigration enforcement officers. If you are in one of these groups you should refer to the advice at:

Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

6.1 Face coverings

There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from COVID-19.

A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. It is not the same as a face mask, such as the surgical masks or respirators used by health and care workers. Similarly, face coverings are not the same as the PPE used to manage risks like dust and spray in an industrial context. Supplies of PPE, including face masks, must continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.

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 in a number of indoor premises.

People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and before and after taking them off.

Find further detail on when and where to wear face coverings.

Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons.

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and before 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 carefully in your usual waste
  • practise social distancing wherever possible

Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.

7. Workforce management

In this section

7.1 Shift patterns and outbreaks

7.1.1 Shift patterns and working groups

Objective: To change the way work is organised to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts each worker has.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. As far as possible, where people are split into teams or shift groups, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.

  2. Identifying areas where people have to directly pass things to each other, such as shared tools, materials or job instructions, and find ways to remove direct contact, for example by using drop-off points or transfer zones.

  3. For those workers who are required to travel and stay away from home in onsite accommodation, creating fixed groups of workers so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.

  4. Minimising worker congregation at bottlenecks such as timeclocks, entrances and exits and maintaining social distancing during shift handovers.

  5. You should assist the test and trace service by keeping a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed.

7.1.2 Outbreaks in the workplace

Objective: To provide guidance in an event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. As part of your risk assessment, you should ensure you have an up to date plan in case there is a COVID-19 outbreak. This plan should nominate a single point of contact (SPOC) where possible who should lead on contacting local Public Health teams.

  2. If there is more than one case of COVID-19 associated with your workplace, you should contact your local PHE health protection team to report the suspected outbreak. Find your local PHE health protection team.

  3. If the local PHE health protection team declares an outbreak, you will be asked to record details of symptomatic staff and assist with identifying contacts. You should therefore ensure all employment records are up to date. You will be provided with information about the outbreak management process, which will help you to implement control measures, assist with communications to staff, and reinforce prevention messages.

7.2 Work-related travel

7.2.1 Cars, accommodation and visits

Objective: To avoid unnecessary work travel and keep people safe when they do need to travel between locations.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Walking or cycling where possible. Where not possible, you can use public transport or drive. You must wear a face covering when using public transport.

  2. Minimising the number of people outside of your household, or support bubble, travelling together in any one vehicle, using fixed travel partners, increasing ventilation when possible and avoiding sitting face-to-face.

  3. Cleaning shared vehicles between shifts or on handover.

  4. Where workers are required to stay away from their home, centrally logging the stay and making sure any overnight accommodation meets social distancing guidelines.

7.2.2 Deliveries to other sites

Objective: To help workers delivering to other sites such as markets or customer premises to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Putting in place procedures to minimise person-to-person contact during deliveries to other sites.

  2. Maintaining consistent pairing where two-person deliveries are required.

  3. Minimising contact during payments and exchange of documentation, for example, by using electronic payment methods and electronically signed and exchanged documents.

7.3 Communications and training

7.3.1 Returning to work

Objective: To make sure all workers understand COVID-19 related safety procedures.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing clear, consistent and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of ways of working.

  2. Engaging with workers and worker representatives through existing communication routes and worker representatives to explain and agree any changes in working arrangements.

  3. Developing communication and training materials for workers prior to returning to site, especially around new procedures for arrival at work.

7.3.2 Ongoing communications and signage

Objective: To make sure all workers on site are kept up to date with how safety measures are being implemented or updated.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Ongoing engagement with workers (including through trades unions or employee representative groups) to monitor and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments.

  2. Awareness and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  3. Using simple, clear messaging to explain guidelines using images and clear language, with consideration of groups for which English may not be their first language and those with protected characteristics such as visual impairments.

  4. Using visual communications, for example, whiteboards or signage, to explain safe working practices around the working site to reduce the need for face-to-face communications.

  5. Communicating approaches and operational procedures to suppliers, customers or trade bodies to help their adoption and to share experience.

8. Inbound and outbound goods

Objective: To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the site especially in high volume situations, for example builders’ yard or despatch areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Revising pick-up and drop-off collection points, procedures, signage and markings.

  2. Minimising unnecessary contact at gatehouse security, yard and warehouse, for example, non-contact deliveries where the nature of the product allows for use of electronic pre-booking.

  3. Considering methods to reduce frequency of deliveries, for example by ordering larger quantities less often.

  4. Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles.

  5. Where possible, using the same pairs of people for loads where more than one is needed.

  6. Enabling drivers to access welfare facilities when required, consistent with other guidance.

  7. Encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice, such as preventing drive-aways.

Where to obtain further guidance

Find advice and support from your business representative organisation or trade association.

Appendix

Definitions

Term Definition
Clinically extremely vulnerable people Refers to people who have specific underlying health conditions that make them extremely vulnerable to severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Clinically extremely vulnerable people will have received a letter telling them they are in this group, or will have been told by their GP. Who is ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’?
Clinically vulnerable people Refers to people who may be at increased risk from COVID-19, including those aged 70 or over and those with some underlying health conditions. Who is ‘clinically vulnerable’?
Common areas Refers to areas and amenities which are provided for the common use of more than one person including canteens, reception areas, meeting rooms, areas of worship, toilets, gardens, fire escapes, kitchens, fitness facilities, store rooms, laundry facilities.
Support bubbles The term ‘support bubble’ refers to single adult households, where adults live alone or with dependent children only, expanding their support network so that it includes one other household of any size. What a support bubble is.

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