Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Vehicles

Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.

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

There is different guidance for public transport operators (including taxi drivers).

National restrictions in England are in place until 2 December. People should stay at home where possible and should only travel to work if they cannot work from home.

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

This guide was updated on 26 November 2020.

What’s changed

Updated guidance: new local restriction tiers information and clinically extremely vulnerable (section 2.2).  

Updated priority actions. Updated Introduction. Updated risk assessment information (section 1). Equalities progress report added (section 2.1). PPE section simplified (section 6.1). Updated outbreak advice (section 7.1.2).

Local restriction tiers

The government has announced that the current national restrictions will be replaced on 2 December with a regionally-differentiated approach, where different tiers of restrictions apply in different parts of the country.

There are 3 tiers for local restrictions:

  • Tier 1: Medium alert
  • Tier 2: High alert
  • Tier 3: Very High alert

It is right to target the toughest measures only in areas where the virus is most prevalent and where we are seeing sharper increases in the rate of infection.

From (and including) 2 December, most businesses and venues will be allowed to open, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

This guidance sets out the restrictions that certain businesses and venues in England are required to follow.

Find out which tier your business will be in.

People can work in or from vehicles, if COVID-Secure, under all tiers.

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

Eight 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 and your customers to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.

  3. Remind your customers to wear face coverings where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your 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. Social distancing applies both inside and outside of vehicles. 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. Consider ventilation. Read advice on air conditioning and ventilation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

  6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all staff and contractors (not customers) for 21 days. This is a legal requirement. 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 customer has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating. Employers must not require someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work. Any employer asking an employee to break self-isolation to work is committing an offence.

  8. Consider the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19 for yourself and others. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Five more things to be aware of if your business provides services in or from vehicles:

  • Make sure people work in 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 people and introduce back-to-back or side-to-side working.
  • Reduce face-to-face meetings. Encourage calls or video conferences to avoid in-person meetings with external contacts, or colleagues outside someone’s immediate team, wherever possible.
  • Limit handling of goods. Consider having one worker at a time to load and unload vehicles. Introduce electronic paperwork where possible.
  • Communicate and train. Make sure all staff and customers 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 government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan presents a programme for suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and the vulnerable, keeping education and the economy going and providing a route back to normality.

This guide will help you understand how to make your workplace COVID-Secure and help tackle COVID-19. We thank you for playing your part in this national effort.

Who this guide is for

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 from vehicles or similar environments. This includes:

  • couriers
  • mobile workers
  • lorry drivers
  • on-site transit
  • work vehicles
  • field forces

We expect that this document will be updated over time. You can check for updates at www.gov.uk/workingsafely.

Who has contributed to this guide

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.

If you have any feedback for us that we should include in the next version, please email safer.workplaces@beis.gov.uk.

How to use this guidance

This document sets out the 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 the 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 are working to protect 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.

1. Thinking about risk

In this section

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

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety, including from the risks of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a hazard in the workplace and, as such, should be managed in the same way as other workplace hazards. This includes completing a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace and identifying control measures to manage that risk.

Failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and put in place sufficient control measures to manage the risk may be considered a breach of health and safety law.

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. Where serious breaches are identified HSE and Local Authorities have a range of measures they can take to ensure compliance. These include sending letters, serving improvement notices and prohibition notices and in cases where significant breaches are identified then prosecutions can be brought.

Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. There are interactive tools available to support you from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

You should also consider the security implications of any decisions and control measures you intend to put in place, as any revisions could present new or altered security risks that may require mitigation.

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, but you may decide it would be helpful to.

Employers have a duty to consult on health and safety matters. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work they do and how you will manage the risks from COVID-19.

This may be through consulting with any recognised trade union health and safety representatives or, if you don’t have any, with a representative chosen by workers.

As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be. Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues. If concerns still cannot be resolved, see below for further steps you can take.

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. From September 28 by law 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 is acceptable).

  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 where 2m is not viable.

    Further mitigating actions include:

    – further increasing the frequency of handwashing 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. 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.

  7. 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.

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 it 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, which can also be provided as cards, stickers or similar, 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.

Anyone who can work from home should do so.Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. 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. Finding digital or remote alternatives to physical, in-home work where possible such as video or phone consultations.

  2. Discussing working environment and practices with householders and clients in advance to confirm how the work will be carried out, if a physical visit is needed.

  3. Employers and agencies should keep in touch with workers, who they might usually meet with face-to-face, on their working arrangements including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security.

2.1 Protecting people who are at higher risk

Objective: To support those who are at 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. Read progress update reports.

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 ethnic (BAME) backgrounds

You should consider this in your risk assessment.

Tiering and the clinically extremely vulnerable

Advice to clinically extremely vulnerable individuals on attending work differs depending on which Tier their local area is in.

In Tier 1: Medium alert and Tier 2: High alert, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are advised to work from home where possible but can still attend work if they cannot work from home.

In Tier 3: Very High alert, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are strongly advised to work from home, but can still attend work if they cannot work from home. Employers should consider whether clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can take on an alternative role or change their working patterns temporarily to avoid travelling during busy periods.

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

See current guidance for advice on who is in the clinically extremely vulnerable group.

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 NHS 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 whilst 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 2020.

  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, disability, race and 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.

It will not always be possible to maintain social distancing guidelines inside vehicles (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable). Many in-vehicle tasks need more than one person, for example heavy deliveries or refuse collection, and changing vehicle configurations to create more space may not be practical.

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 vehicle, but also depots or break rooms and anywhere drivers congregate outside of the vehicle. 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. Assigning fixed groups of workers to the same transportation routes where sole travel is not possible.

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

3.2 Moving around buildings, worksites and destinations

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reducing the number of workers at base depots or distribution centres at a given time based on minimum operational safety requirements.

  2. Scheduling times for the collection of goods to avoid over-crowding.

  3. Picking goods ahead of collection and loading onto vehicles without interacting with the driver.

  4. Reducing job and location rotation.

  5. Finding alternative solutions to 2-person delivery. This could include delaying delivery of large items or using an alternative method, for example, mechanical / material handling equipment. Where these are not possible maintain fixed pairing for 2-person deliveries and minimise physical contact.

3.3 Social distancing in vehicles

Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible between individuals when in vehicles:

  • avoid multiple occupancy vehicles where safe to do so
  • vehicles should not be shared if possible
  • if it is not possible to maintain social distancing guidelines inside vehicles (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable), consider additional safety measures

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Keeping the number of people in the vehicle to a minimum and as distanced within the vehicle space as possible.

  2. Devising mitigation measures where workers cannot maintain social distancing guidelines to minimise the risk of transmission, including:

    – clear signage to outline social distancing measures in place
    – single person or contactless refuelling where possible
    – using physical screening, provided this does not compromise safety, for example, through reducing visibility
    – sitting side-by-side not face-to-face and increasing ventilation where possible.

  3. Using a fixed pairing system if workers have to be in close proximity, for example in a vehicle.

  4. Making sure vehicles are well-ventilated to increase the flow of air, for example, by opening a window.

  5. Ensure regular cleaning of vehicles, in particular between different users.

3.4 Carrying out deliveries or collections

Objective: To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the vehicle, especially in high volume situations, for example distribution centres, despatch areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Scheduling to limit exposure to large crowds and rush hours where appropriate.

  2. Revising pick-up and drop-off collection points and procedures with signage and marking.

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

  4. 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.

  5. Maximising use of electronic paperwork where possible, and reviewing procedures to enable safe exchange of paper copies where needed, for example, required transport documents.

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

  7. Encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice.

3.5 Accidents, security and other incidents

Objective: To prioritise safety during incidents.

In an emergency, for example, an accident, provision of first aid, fire or break-in, 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.

4. Managing your customers, visitors and contractors

In this section

4.1 Manage contacts

Objective: To minimise the contact risk resulting from people in vehicles.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Determining if schedules can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people. For example, when drivers arrive at depots, collection and delivery times and break times.

  2. Ensuring delivery and receipt confirmation can be made contactless and avoiding physical contact when handing goods over to the customer.

  3. Preparing for goods to be dropped off to a previously agreed area to avoid transmission, for example, taking advantage of click and collect type arrangements.

  4. Keeping the number of people in the vehicle to a minimum and as distanced within the vehicle space as possible, and using other safety measures such as ensuring good ventilation.

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

4.2 Providing and explaining available guidance

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing guidance and explanation on social distancing and hygiene to passengers when they enter the vehicle. Consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are hearing or visually impaired.

  2. Understanding the protocol for collecting and distributing goods across different locations and agreeing these in advance.

  3. Regularly briefing drivers and temporary staff, communicating to customers and providing in vehicle guides and reminders for passengers and staff.

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

5. Cleaning the workplace

In this section

5.1 Keeping the 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 door handles, fuel pumps and vehicle keys, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products.

  3. Encouraging workers to wash hands before boarding vehicles.

  4. Retaining sufficient quantities of hand sanitiser / wipes within vehicles to enable workers to clean hands after each delivery / drop off.

  5. Clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the vehicle at the end of a shift.

  6. Maintaining good ventilation in the work environment, for example, keeping windows or doors open.

5.2 Hygiene - handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets

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

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing, avoiding touching your face and to cough or sneeze into your arm.

  2. Ensuring drivers have access to appropriate toilet facilities during their journeys and at their destinations and are helped to meet any requirements to allow them to do this, for example prior booking-in, provision of hand sanitiser.

  3. Providing sufficient hand sanitiser where handwashing is not possible.

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

  5. If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then you should refer to the guidance on cleaning in non healthcare settings.

  6. Keeping the facilities well ventilated.

  7. Using non recycling bins 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 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, clear of personal items and social distancing is achieved as much as possible.

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

6. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings

In this section

6.1 Personal protective equipment (PPE)

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

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, not through the use of PPE.

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.

6.2 Face coverings

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.

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 mandatory on public transport and will be mandatory 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.

You can make face-coverings at home. Read how to wear and make a face-covering.

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. People who work together in one vehicle should be in a fixed pairing as far as possible.

  3. Identifying areas where people have to directly pass things to each other (such as job information, spare parts, samples, raw materials) and find ways to remove direct contact, for example, by using drop off points or transfer zones.

  4. 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 are more than 5 cases of COVID-19 associated with your workplace in 14 days, 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 Accommodation

Objective: To keep people safe when they do need to travel overnight.

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. 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 factories, logistics sites or customers’ 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. 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 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 trade 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.

  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 changes to schedules, breakdowns or materials shortages without the need for face-to-face communications.

  5. Communicating approaches and operational procedures to suppliers, customers or trade bodies to help their adoption and 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, distribution centres, 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. Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles.

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

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

  6. 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.

Download the ‘Staying COVID-19 Secure’ poster

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