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Keeping your workplace clean will help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Surfaces and objects can be contaminated with COVID-19 when people who are infected touch them or cough or sneeze near them.
Think about how you can reduce this risk by cleaning your workplace regularly, and paying particular attention to surfaces or objects that people touch frequently.
What you can do
Review your cleaning schedule.
- Make sure you are regularly cleaning all areas of your facility with your usual cleaning products.
- Make a checklist of priority areas (such as bathrooms, door handles and surfaces) to be cleaned when guests vacate.
Clean some areas more frequently. You should consider:
- Surfaces that people touch regularly, like door handles, lift buttons and handrails.
- Shared equipment and objects, such as microphones used by speakers at events - clean them between users where this is practical.
- Places that are used frequently, like reception areas.
- Areas used by multiple groups of guests, like lounges,common areas and shared recreation rooms.
- Toilet and bathroom facilities - set clear guidance for staff and customers on using and cleaning bathroom facilities. Make sure that surfaces like taps, hand-dryers and door handles are regularly cleaned. Put up a cleaning schedule that staff and guests can see, and keep it updated. Make sure that higher-risk facilities like portable toilets, large toilet blocks and shared guest bathrooms are thoroughly cleaned.
Large venues and events should take extra care. Think about whether you should:
- Clean the venue thoroughly, before and after the event.
- Clean surfaces touched regularly (such as door handles and handrails) during the event, particularly if you expect a large number of guests.
- Where possible, organise your event so that audience areas (such as meeting rooms and seating in auditoriums) are cleaned between use by different customers. For example, cleaning seating areas between theatre performances or elite sport competitions.
- Reduce the need for crowding in or around toilet facilities. If there are crowded areas, you could try implementing one-way systems
- Provide additional waste facilities, including closed bins, and ensure rubbish is collected frequently.
Considerations for heritage locations:
Ensure cleaning materials and schedules are appropriate for historic surfaces and materials. Some historic surfaces are vulnerable to damage through inappropriate cleaning, for example with strong chemicals (such as concentrated bleach).
Consider the most effective ways of regularly cleaning sensitive historic surfaces in high-traffic areas (such as entrances / stairways and offices in listed buildings) or touchpoints (such as handrails and surfaces) without causing lasting damage to them.
Consider alternative approaches where increased frequency or intensity of cleaning would be damaging to a surface or material. For example, placing temporary covers over sensitive surfaces before cleaning other areas, or leaving areas empty for appropriate periods between visits.
Review specialist advice. You should review Historic England’s guidance on cleaning and disinfecting historic surfaces, which has been prepared in line with guidance published by the government, or consult specialists for advice on particularly sensitive historic materials.
One of the most effective ways for people to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading is washing their hands regularly. Think about how you can promote good hygiene in your workplace, and make sure your messages reach people who have difficulty with their sight or hearing.
What you can do
Provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser for staff and customers. This could mean that you:
- Provide hand sanitiser near shared facilities, equipment and objects, like reception desks and touch-screen devices.
- Hand sanitiser stations can be helpful in busy areas like entrance foyers, doorways, lifts and bathroom facilities. If you have a large venue or event site, think about placing them at the entrances of different buildings or areas. For example, at the entrance and exit of theme park attractions and rides.
- Consider the needs of people with disabilities. Make sure that hand sanitiser stations can be reached by people in wheelchairs and don’t block access or fire exits.
- Check handwashing and hand sanitiser facilities regularly and make sure they are cleaned and refilled.
Use signs and posters to promote good hygiene, making people aware:
- How to wash their hands effectively.
- That they should wash their hands frequently.
- That they should avoid touching their faces or face coverings.
- That they should cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into their arm if a tissue is not available.
Provide additional guidance for staff on hygiene and safety. This could mean that you:
- Provide regular reminders to staff (for example, in break rooms and bathrooms) to wash or sanitise their hands, particularly after contact with guests.
- Make sure cleaners and housekeeping staff have time and facilities to wash their hands after cleaning rooms and items that guests have touched.
- This is particularly important after cases of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 - see the section on cleaning after a case of COVID-19 for more information.
Ventilation plays an important role in reducing the risk of aerosol (airborne) transmission of COVID-19. Use your risk assessment to think about:
- How to make sure there is an adequate supply of fresh air in your workplace. This is particularly important for indoor spaces where there are people present. Read about improving ventilation.
- Finding out if there are areas of your workplace which don’t have enough ventilation, and how you can improve fresh air flow in these areas. Read about poorly ventilated spaces.
Good ventilation brings fresh air into indoor spaces. The more fresh air that is brought inside, the more it will dilute any virus particles in the air. In spaces which don’t have enough ventilation, virus particles can remain in the air after an infected person has left and increase the risk of COVID-19 spreading.
Watch a video from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which explains how ventilation reduces the risk of transmission.
Make sure there is an adequate supply of fresh air in your workplace. This can be natural ventilation (opening windows, doors and vents), mechanical ventilation (fans and ducts), or a combination of both. It’s particularly important to keep toilets and showers well-ventilated, as these can be areas of higher risk.
How to improve natural ventilation
- Open doors, windows and air vents where possible.
- Opening doors and windows even for a brief period can help to refresh the air and reduce COVID-19 particles.
- Opening the windows and doors fully will let the most fresh air into the space.
- Encourage people to use outside space where it’s practical, especially for higher-risk activities such as exercise, or when people are singing or raising their voices.
How to improve mechanical ventilation
- Make sure that your systems are set to maximise fresh air and minimise air recirculation.
- It’s not advised to recirculate air from one space to another. Systems which recirculate air from one space to another are likely to increase the risk of transmission.
- Recirculation units that do not bring in fresh air can remain in operation as long as there is an alternative supply of fresh air.
Heritage locations should take care to increase ventilation in a way which does not endanger historic items. Doors and windows can be propped open if they do not cause an environmental, collection, safety, fire or security risk.
Identify and manage poorly ventilated spaces
It’s important to find out if there are poorly ventilated areas of your workplace that are usually occupied by people (workers or customers), so you can increase the flow of fresh air.
How to identify poorly ventilated spaces
- Look for areas where people are usually present for an extended period of time, and where there is no mechanical ventilation and no natural ventilation (such as open windows, vents or doors).
- Use a carbon dioxide (CO2) monitor to measure the level of ventilation (see below for more information). In an an area or room people are using, an average CO2 concentration of above 1500ppm indicates that it is poorly ventilated.
- You should take action to improve ventilation where CO2 readings are consistently higher than 1500ppm.
Consider factors which may increase the risk
- In a poorly ventilated space, the risk of COVID-19 transmission will increase where there are more virus particles being released into the air.
- When identifying poorly ventilated spaces, you should pay particular attention to areas of high occupancy (which are used by a larger number of people) and which are used for extended periods of time, as these factors will increase the risk of transmission.
- You should also consider how the space is used. Some activities can increase the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19. This happens where people are doing activities which generate more particles as they breathe heavily, such as singing, dancing, exercising or raising their voices.
- Where there is continuous talking or singing, or high levels of physical activity (such as dancing, playing sport or exercise), providing ventilation sufficient to keep CO2 levels below 800ppm is recommended.
What you can do
If your risk assessment shows that there are poorly ventilated areas in your workplace, it’s important that you improve the ventilation to reduce the risk of COVID-19 being spread in these areas.
Follow the steps above to improve ventilation (internal link) by opening doors, windows and vents, if possible, and by ensuring that any mechanical ventilation system is set to maximise fresh air and minimise air recirculation.
If these options are not available or do not provide sufficient ventilation (for example, if CO2 readings remain above recommended levels, or the room continues to feel stuffy), you can think about other ways to reduce the risk in these spaces.
Think about changing the way these spaces are used. For example, you could:
- Restrict the number of people who can use the space at the same time.
- Restrict the length of time people spend in the space.
- Move activities which involve exercising, dancing or raising voices (singing, shouting or talking loudly) to an area with better ventilation.
Think about ways to increase mechanical ventilation.
- Ask a ventilation engineer to check the performance of your mechanical ventilation system, especially if it hasn’t been serviced recently.
- Install a mechanical ventilation system, if you don’t have mechanical ventilation or if the existing system does not provide fresh air.
- Install an air cleaning or filtration unit. Air cleaning or filtration is not a substitute for good ventilation. But where poor ventilation cannot be improved in other ways, a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or ultraviolet air purifier could help to reduce the number of COVID-19 particles in the air. Read HSE’s advice on air cleaning and filtration devices.
Using carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors to identify poorly ventilated spaces
Using Carbon Dioxide (CO2) monitors
People exhale carbon dioxide (CO2) when they breathe out. If there is a build-up of CO2 in an area it can indicate that ventilation needs improving.
Although CO2 levels are not a direct measure of possible exposure to COVID-19, checking levels using a monitor can help you identify poorly ventilated areas. Read HSE advice on how to use a CO2 monitor.
How the measurements can help you take action
CO2 measurements should be used as a broad guide to ventilation rather than treating them as safe thresholds.
Outdoor levels are around 400ppm (parts per million of carbon dioxide). Indoors, a consistent CO2 value less than 800ppm is likely to indicate that a space is well-ventilated.
A CO2 concentration of above 1500ppm when a room is occupied is an indicator of poor ventilation. You should take action to improve ventilation where CO2 readings are consistently higher than 1500ppm.
Where there is continuous talking or singing, or high levels of physical activity (such as dancing, playing sport or exercising), providing ventilation sufficient to keep CO2 levels below 800ppm is recommended.
Where CO2 monitors can help
CO2 monitors can be used to check ventilation in a wide range of settings.
In large areas such as concert halls or event spaces, multiple sensors may be required to provide meaningful information.
There are some spaces where CO2 monitors are less likely to provide useful readings. These are:
- Areas occupied by people for short periods or for varying amounts of time. For example, a railway station or an atrium.
- Areas where air cleaning units are in use. Filtration can remove contaminants (such as COVID-19) from the air but will not remove CO2.
- Spaces like changing rooms, toilets or small meeting rooms.
- Spaces used by low numbers of people.
- Areas where CO2 is produced as part of a work process.
Read HSE advice on the suitability of CO2 monitoring in different types of space. Where CO2 monitors cannot be used, you should still identify poorly ventilated spaces and provide adequate ventilation.
Face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE)
People should wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed settings where they come into contact with people they do not normally meet. Where worn correctly, this can reduce the risk of transmission.
Face coverings are no longer required by law. However, businesses can encourage customers, visitors or workers to wear a face covering. Where worn correctly, this can reduce the risk of transmission.
What you can do
Consider encouraging the use of face coverings (using signs and other communications), particularly in indoor areas where people may come into contact with people they do not normally meet.
When deciding whether you will recommend that workers or customers wear face coverings:
- Be aware that face coverings may make it harder to communicate with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.
- You need to consider the reasonable adjustments needed for workers and customers with disabilities. You also need to carefully consider how this fits with your other obligations to workers and customers arising from the law on employment rights, health and safety and equality legislation.
- Remember that some people are not able to wear face coverings, and the reasons for this may not be visible to others. Please be mindful and respectful of people’s individual circumstances.
- Remember that you should not ask people to wear face coverings while taking part in any strenuous activity or sport.
Your workers may choose to wear a face covering in the workplace.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Consider through your risk assessment whether your workers need personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Do not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 unless you are 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 spreading is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that PPE has an extremely limited role in providing extra protection.
- If your facility or event includes staff providing close contact services (such as medical personnel, massage therapists, security staff, hair and makeup technicians and beauticians), you may decide that clients and/or staff should wear a face covering, especially where practitioners are conducting treatments which require them to be in close proximity to a person’s face, mouth and nose. You should review the guidance for close contact services and take account of the risks to staff and customers.
- If your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.
Where you are already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should keep doing so.