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).

COVID-19 roadmap

Step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown has begun. Some of the rules changed on 17 May 2021, but many restrictions remain in place.

A new COVID-19 variant is spreading in some parts of England. There may be additional advice for your area. Find out what you need to do.

This guide was updated on 17 May 2021.

What’s changed

We’ve now moved to Step 3.

National restrictions – Spring 2021

On 22 February the government published the COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 setting out how COVID-19 restrictions will be eased over 4 steps. 

The roadmap has set out indicative, ‘no earlier than’ dates for the steps which are 5 weeks apart. It takes around 4 weeks for the data to reflect the impact of the previous step and the government will provide a further week’s notice to individuals and businesses before making changes.

People can work in or from vehicles under all steps, if COVID-secure.

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.

Consider reasonable adjustments for staff and customers with disabilities. Share it with all your staff.

Find out how to do a risk assessment.

2. Clean more often

Especially surfaces that people touch a lot. You should ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.

3. Remind your visitors to wear face coverings where the law says they must

This is especially important if your customers 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 can maintain 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. Provide adequate ventilation

This means supplying fresh air to enclosed space where people are present. This can be natural ventilation through windows, doors and vents, mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or a combination of both. Read the HSE advice on air conditioning and ventilation.

6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace

Keep a record of all staff and contractors for 21 days. Check ‘Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace’ for details.

7. Turn people with COVID-19 symptoms away

Staff members should self-isolate if they or someone in their household has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell. If someone is self-isolating, employers must not ask or make them come to work. It’s an offence to do this.

8. Consider the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19 for yourself and others

There is government guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Other things to be aware of

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. Do this 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 you’re using and updating safety measures.

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

Introduction

This guide will help you understand how to make your workplace COVID-secure and help stop the spread of 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. BEIS consulted 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, 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.

You will need to translate this into the specific actions you need to take. These will depend on the nature of your business, including the size and type of business, how it’s organised, operated, managed and regulated. You will also need to monitor these measures to make sure they continue to protect customers and workers.

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, entertainment licensing and regulations, employment or equalities. It’s important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations. This includes those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. This contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations.

Remember this guidance does not just cover your employees. You must also take into account employees, agency workers, contractors and other people.

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 workplace hazard. You must manage it 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
  • 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.

Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. The Health and Safety Executive has tools to support you.

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.

You do not have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment if you:

  • have fewer than 5 workers
  • are self-employed

However, you may still find it useful to do so.

Consult your workers

As an employer, you have a legal duty to consult workers 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.

You may do this by consulting with any recognised trade union health and safety representatives.

If you do not have any, you can consult 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 you still cannot do this, see below for other steps you can take.

Enforcement

Enforcing authorities identify employers who do not take action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks. When they do, they can take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. The HSE and your local authority are examples of enforcing authorities.

When they identify serious breaches, enforcing authorities can do a number of things. They include:

  • sending you a letter
  • serving you with an improvement or prohibition notice
  • bringing a prosecution against you, in cases where they identify significant breaches

When an enforcing authority issues you with any advice or notices, you should respond rapidly and within their timescales.

The vast majority of employers are responsible. They will work 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

If you’re an employee, you can contact:

  • your employee representative
  • your trade union if you have one

You can also 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. Make sure that workers and customers who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the venue. By law, businesses may not require a self-isolating worker to come to work.

  2. Increase how often people wash their hands and clean surfaces in the workplace.

  3. Make every reasonable effort to ensure your workers can work safely. Consider reasonable adjustments for workers or customers with disabilities, including hidden disabilities that are not immediately obvious. Anyone who can work from home should do so. Anyone who cannot work from home should go to their place of work, if COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely. When in the workplace, everyone should make every reasonable effort to comply with the government’s social distancing guidelines. These are 2 metres or 1 metre+ with risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable. 

  4. Fresh air helps to dilute the virus in occupied spaces so provide adequate ventilation through doors, windows and vents, by mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or a combination of both.

  5. Consider these additional control measures where 2 m social distancing is not possible:

    – increase the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning even more
    – keep activity time involved as short as possible
    – use screens or barriers to separate people from each other
    – use back-to-back or side-to-side working whenever possible, instead of face-to-face
    – reduce the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

  6. When you cannot redesign an activity to meet social distance guidelines, ask if your business can continue without that activity. If it cannot, take all mitigation actions possible to reduce transmission risk between staff.

  7. Take steps so people don’t have to raise their voices to each other unless they need to. For example, make sure people don’t play music or broadcasts at level that makes it hard to have normal conversations. This is because there is potentially an increased transmission risk, especially from aerosol transmission.

  8. 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.

Singing, shouting and aerobic activities generate higher levels of aerosol and increase the risk of transmission further. You should consider these factors when ensuring you have adequate ventilation in the workplace. Lowering background noise, including music, reduces the need for people to sit close or shout. This can reduce the risk of airborne virus emissions and transmission.

You could also consider any advice that has been produced specifically for your sector. For example, by trades associations or trades unions.

If you’re currently operating, you will already have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment.

You should 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 there are changes in the workplace that could lead to new risks.

1.2 Sharing the results of your risk assessment

You should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce.

If possible, consider publishing the results on your website. We would expect all businesses with over 50 workers to do so.

All businesses should show their workers and customers that they have:

  • properly assessed their risk
  • taken appropriate measures to mitigate this

You should do this by displaying a notification:

  • in a prominent place in your business
  • on your website if you have one

To show you have followed this guidance, sign and display the notice below.

2. Who should go to work

In this section

Objective: Employers should ensure workplaces are safe for anyone who cannot work from home. We recognise that for many people who work in these types of workplace, it’s often not possible to work from home.

Anyone who can work from home should do so. However, you should consider whether home working is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health difficulties or with a particularly challenging home working environment.

If COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely, the risk of transmission can be significantly reduced.

Employers should consult with their employees to decide who needs to come into the workplace.

You should also consider the impact of workers coming into the workplace on local transport and take appropriate mitigating actions. For example, staggered start and finish times for staff.

You should give extra consideration to people at higher risk.

If you consider that workers should come into the workplace, you should reflect this in your risk assessment and take actions to manage transmission risks in line with this guidance.

You will usually need to:

  1. Find digital or remote alternatives to physical, in-home work where possible. For example video or phone consultations.

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

  3. Keep in touch with your workers on their working arrangements, including their:

    – welfare 
    – mental and physical health 
    – 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.

There are some groups who are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. They may be advised to take extra precautions to protect themselves. See guidance on who is at higher risk from coronavirus and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. 

As an employer, you should make sure suitable arrangements are in place so that they can work safely. Government advice is that clinically extremely vulnerable people no longer need to shield, and should follow the general COVID-19 restrictions which apply to everyone.  

We advise clinically extremely vulnerable individuals to work from home where possible. They 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. 

You will usually need to:

  1. See current guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and protecting vulnerable workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Put measures in place to ensure the workplace is COVID-secure. 

  2. Provide support to staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable, and consider options for altering work arrangements temporarily (if needed) so they can avoid travelling during busy periods. 

  3. Provide support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include advice or telephone support. 

2.2 People who need to self-isolate

Objective: To stop people physically coming to work, when government guidance advises them to stay at home. This includes people who: 

– have COVID-19 symptoms 
– live in a household or are in a support bubble with someone who has symptoms 
– are required to self-isolate as part of NHS Test and Trace

You will usually need to:

  1. Enable workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate. It’s illegal to knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

  2. See current guidance related to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19 for: 

    employers
    employees

  3. Ensure any workers who have symptoms of COVID-19 self-isolate immediately and continue for the next 10 full days. This means that if, for example, their symptoms started at any time on the 15th of the month their isolation period ends at 11:59pm on the 25th.

    These symptoms are:  

    – a high temperature
    – a new, continuous cough
    – a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste

    Workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate immediately and continue for the next 10 full days. Workers that test positive but have no symptoms must also self-isolate in this way. Sometimes workers develop symptoms during their isolation period. In these cases, they must restart their 10-day self-isolation period from the day after they develop symptoms.  See the guidance for people who live in households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infections.

  4. Ensure any workers who are contacts of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 self-isolate for a period of 10 days. Contacts must self-isolate immediately and continue for the next 10 full days.

  5. Ensure any workers who have been informed by NHS Test and Trace that they are a close contact of a person who has had a positive test result for COVID-19 follow the requirement to self-isolate. See the 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.

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

It’s against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their age, sex, disability, race or other ‘protected characteristic’.

Read the government guidance on discrimination for further information.

As an employer, you have particular responsibilities towards:

You will usually need to: 

  1. Understand and take into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics.  

  2. Involve and communicate appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either: 

    – expose them to a different degree of risk 
    – make any steps you’re thinking about inappropriate or challenging for them 

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

  4. Make reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage. 

  5. Assess the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers. 

  6. Make sure any steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others. For example, those with caring responsibilities or religious commitments. 

3. Social distancing for workers

In this section

Objective: Ensuring workers maintain social distancing guidelines wherever possible. These are 2 metres or 1 metre+ with risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable. This includes when they arrive at and depart from work, while they are in work, and when they travel between sites.

It will not always be possible to maintain social distancing guidelines inside vehicles. Many in-vehicle tasks need more than one person. For example heavy deliveries or refuse collection. In such cases, changing vehicle configurations to create more space may not be practical.

You should also consider those with protected characteristics as social distancing may not be possible or will be more challenging for workers with certain disabilities. For example, individuals in wheelchairs or with visual impairments. You should discuss with disabled workers what reasonable adjustments can be made to the workplace, so they can work safely.

You should maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible. If you can, redesign business activities that cannot currently meet social distance guidelines.

You can mitigate risk by:

  • 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)

If you cannot redesign an activity to meet social distancing guidelines, consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate. If it does, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between staff.

Social distancing applies to all parts of your business, not just the place where people spend most of their time. For example, it also covers depots or break rooms, and anywhere drivers congregate outside of the vehicle.

These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing and you should remind workers specifically.

3.1 Coming to work and leaving work

Objective: To maintain social distancing on arrival and departure, and to make sure people can wash their hands.

You will usually need to:

  1. Stagger arrival and departure times at work. This will cut crowding in and out of the workplace. Take into account the impact on people with protected characteristics.

  2. Provide extra parking or facilities such as bike-racks. This will help people walk, run, or cycle to work.

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

  4. Assign fixed groups of workers to the same transportation routes where sole travel is not possible.

  5. See guidance on travelling to and from work and getting help with daily activities outside your home during coronavirus.

3.2 Moving around buildings, worksites and destinations

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

You will usually need to:

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

  2. Schedule times for the collection of goods to avoid overcrowding.

  3. Pick goods ahead of collection and load them onto vehicles without interacting with the driver.

  4. Reduce job and location rotation.

  5. Find 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. If this is 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
  • prevent vehicles being shared if possible
  • consider additional safety measures, if it’s not possible to maintain social distancing guidelines inside vehicles

You will usually need to:

  1. Keep the number of people in the vehicle to a minimum. Have them maintain social distancing in the vehicle as much as possible.

  2. Put in place control measures where workers cannot maintain social distancing in vehicles to reduce the risk of transmission. These include:

    – clear signage to outline your social distancing measures
    – single person or contactless refuelling where possible
    – physical screening. Make sure this does not compromise safety. For example, by reducing visibility.
    – sitting side-by-side and not face-to-face
    – providing adequate ventilation by switching on systems that draw in fresh air or opening windows (partially if it’s cold). For more information on ventilation in vehicles read HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning.

  3. Use a fixed pairing system if workers have to be in close proximity. For example in a vehicle.

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

  5. Ensure vehicles are regularly cleaned, 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. This is especially important in high volume situations. For example distribution centres and despatch areas.

Steps that will usually be needed:

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

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

  3. Have single workers load or unload vehicles. Do this wherever it’s possible and safe.

  4. Minimise unnecessary contact at gatehouse security, yard, and warehouse. For example, use non-contact deliveries where electronic pre-booking is possible.

  5. Make maximum use of electronic paperwork where possible. Review your procedures so paper copies can be exchanged safely when they can be. For example, transport documents.

  6. Enable drivers to access welfare facilities when they need them, and in line with other guidance.

  7. Encourage drivers to stay in their vehicles when they can. Make sure 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 emergencies, you do not have to socially distance if that would be unsafe. Examples include:

  • accidents
  • fires
  • break-ins
  • when you’re giving first-aid

Whenever giving help during emergencies, pay particular attention to sanitation straight afterwards. This includes washing hands.

You will usually need to:

  1. Review your incident and emergency procedures. Ensure they reflect the social distancing principles, as far as possible.

  2. Consider the possible security implications when you’re thinking of changing how you work. Your changes may present new or altered security risks. These risks 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.

You will usually need to:

  1. Determine 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. Ensure delivery and receipt confirmation can be made contactless. Avoid physical contact when handing goods over to the customer.

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

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

  5. Maintain 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.

You will usually need to:

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

  2. Understand the protocol for collecting and distributing goods across different locations. Agree these protocols in advance.

  3. Regularly brief drivers and temporary staff, and communicate to customers. Provide in-vehicle guides and reminders for passengers and staff.

  4. Inform passengers they should be prepared to remove face coverings if asked to do so by police officers and staff for 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.

You will usually need to:

  1. Clean work areas and equipment between uses. Use your usual cleaning products.

  2. Frequently clean objects and surfaces that people touch regularly. This includes door handles, fuel pumps and vehicle keys. Make sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products.

  3. Encourage workers to wash their hands before boarding vehicles.

  4. Keep sufficient quantities of hand sanitiser or wipes within vehicles. This should enable workers to clean their hands after each delivery and drop off.

  5. Clear workspaces and remove waste and belongings from the vehicle at the end of a shift.

  6. Maintain good ventilation in the work environment. For example, by keeping windows or doors open.

5.2 Hygiene - handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets

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

You will usually need to:

  1. Use signs and posters to make people aware:

    – how to wash their hands well 
    – that they should wash their hands frequently 
    – that they should not touch their faces 
    – they should cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into their arms if a tissue is not available

  2. Ensure drivers have access to appropriate toilet facilities during their journeys and at their destinations. Help make this possible for them. For example, by prior booking-in, and providing hand sanitiser.

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

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

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

  6. Keep the facilities well ventilated. For example, by ensuring extractor fans work effectively and opening windows and vents where possible.

  7. Use 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. Set clear use and cleaning guidance for showers, lockers and changing rooms where people need to use them. This is to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that social distancing is achieved as much as possible.

  2. Clean all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day.

6. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings

In this section

6.1 Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Where you’re already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should keep doing so.

COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace. You do not need to manage this risk by using PPE. You need to manage this risk through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering.

Do not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 unless you’re in a clinical setting or responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Unless you’re in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that PPE has an extremely limited role in providing extra protection.

6.2 Face coverings

A face covering is something which safely covers your mouth and nose. It’s not the same as a face mask, such as the surgical masks or respirators used by health and care workers. Face coverings are not the same as the PPE used to manage risks like dust and spray in an industrial setting.

Face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk. These include: 

  • minimising time spent in contact 
  • using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work 
  • increasing hand and surface washing 

These measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace. We would not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments.

People may wear a face visor or shield in addition to a face covering but not instead of one. This is because face visors or shields do not adequately cover the nose and mouth, and do not filter airborne particles. Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and will be mandatory in a number of indoor premises, including visitors to storage and distribution facilities. People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, where there are people they do not normally meet.

It’s important to use face coverings properly. If you choose to wear one, you should wash your hands before putting them on and before and after taking them off.

Find more information 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.

You should support your workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. You should tell them to:

  • 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

Be aware that face coverings may make it harder to communicate 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.

You will usually need to:

  1. Manage unavoidable contact so it happens between the same people, as far as possible. Where people are split into teams or shift groups, fix these teams or shift groups.

  2. Make sure the people who work together in the same vehicle use a fixed pairing system, if possible.

  3. Identify areas where people have to directly pass things to each other. Find ways to remove direct contact, for example by using drop-off points or transfer zones.

  4. Take into account the particular circumstances of people with different protected characteristics. These include disability, maternity and religion. Consider how they may be impacted by shift patterns and measures to reduce people flow.

7.1.2 Supporting NHS Test and Trace

Objective: To support NHS Test and Trace.

You should assist NHS Test and Trace. Do this by keeping a temporary record of:

  • all staff working on your premises
  • staff shift times on a given day
  • staff contact details

You should keep this data for 21 days and give this data to NHS Test and Trace if they ask for it. Your efforts could help contain clusters or outbreaks.

Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed.

7.1.3 Outbreaks in the workplace

Objective: To provide guidance if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.

You will usually need to:

  1. Make sure your risk assessment includes 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. The SPOC should lead on contacting local Public Health teams. 

  2. Contact your local PHE health protection team if you’ve had an outbreak and need further guidance. 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 staff with symptoms of COVID-19
    – 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. This will help you to: 

    – implement control measures 
    – assist with communications to staff
    – reinforce prevention messages 

7.2 Work-related travel

7.2.1 Accommodation

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

You will usually need to:

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

  2. When your workers have to stay away from their homes, centrally log their stays. Make sure any overnight accommodation meets social-distancing guidelines.

7.2.2 Deliveries to other sites

Objective: To help workers delivering to other sites to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices. Examples of other sites include factories, logistics sites or customers’ premises .

You will usually need to:

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

  2. Keep contact to a minimum during payments and when documents are exchanged. For example:

    – use electronic payment methods 
    – sign and exchange documents electronically 

7.3 Communications and training

7.3.1 Returning to work

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

You will usually need to:

  1. Communicate clearly, consistently and regularly. This will improve understanding and consistency of ways of working. 

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

  3. Develop communication and training materials for workers prior to returning to site. This is especially important for new procedures for arrival at work. 

7.3.2 Ongoing communications and signage

Objective: To make sure all workers are updated on how you’re implementing or updating safety measures.

You will usually need to:

  1. Engage with workers on an ongoing basis. This includes through trade unions or employee representative groups. Do this to monitor and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments. 

  2. Be aware of and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty. See the guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19. 

  3. Use simple, clear messaging to explain guidelines using images and clear language. You should consider people:

    – who do not have English as their first language 
    – who have protected characteristics, such as visual impairments  

  4. Use visual communications to explain changes to appointment schedules or stock shortages. For example, whiteboards or signage. Do this to reduce the need for face-to-face communications. 

  5. Communicate approaches and operational procedures with 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, distribution centres or despatch areas.

You will usually need to:

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

  2. Minimise unnecessary contact at your gatehouse security, yards, and warehouse. For example, non-contact deliveries where the product can be pre-booked electronically.

  3. Have single workers load or unload vehicles. Do this whenever it’s possible and safe. 

  4. Where possible, use the same pairs of people for loads that need more than one person.

  5. Enable drivers to access welfare facilities when they need to, consistent with other guidance.

  6. Encourage drivers to stay in their vehicles, for example to prevent drive-aways. Do this where it does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice

9. Tests and vaccinations

In this section

It’s important that you continue to put measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. These include:  

  • maintaining social distancing 
  • frequent cleaning 
  • good hygiene 
  • adequate ventilation 

This is important even if your workers have: 

  • received a recent negative test result 
  • had the vaccine (either 1 or 2 doses) 

Where you’re providing testing on-site, you should ensure that workplace testing is carried out in a safe manner and in an appropriate setting where control measures are in place to manage the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the testing process. These include:

  • maintaining social distancing 
  • frequent cleaning 
  • good hygiene 
  • adequate ventilation

You should also ensure that an appropriate setting is available for individuals to wait in while their test is processed. 

9.1 Accessing testing

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a free NHS test.

If you registered your business for free test kits before 12 April 2021, you can order free rapid lateral flow tests to test employees with no COVID-19 symptoms until 30 June 2021.

If you did not register, you can pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site. Read guidance on getting COVID-19 tests for your employees.

Employees who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 can access testing free of charge at home or at a test site. Read guidance on accessing tests if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

Regular testing, alongside control measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, will have a key role to play in the future. Regular testing could help identify more positive cases of COVID-19 in the workplace. Read guidance on your options for workplace testing, or call 119 for more information.

Where to find more information