Guidance & Definitions
The Following checklist is based on guidance issued by the UK Government published on 11th May 2020 which can be found here:
Where to obtain further guidance
COVID-19: what you need to do
COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses
The term ‘common area’ refers to areas and amenities which are provided for the common use of more than one person including canteens, reception areas, meeting rooms, areas of worship, toilets, gardens, fire escapes, kitchens, fitness facilities, store rooms, laundry facilities.
Clinically extremely vulnerable
Clinically extremely vulnerable people will have received a letter telling them they are in this group, or will have been told by their GP. Guidance on who is in this group can be found here:
Clinically vulnerable people
Clinically vulnerable people include those aged 70 or over and those with some underlying health conditions, all members of this group are listed in the ‘clinically vulnerable’ section here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at- home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away- from-others
What do we mean by ‘factories, plants and warehouses’?
Factories, plants and warehouses include industrial environments such as manufacturing and chemical plants, food and other large processing plants, warehouses, distribution centres and port operations.
This document is to help employers, employees and the self employed in the UK understand how to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping as many people as possible 2 metres apart from those they do not live with. We hope it gives you a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart, operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand how important it is to work safely and support your workers’ health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace.
This document has been prepared by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with input from firms, unions, industry bodies and the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Public health is devolved in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; this guidance should be considered alongside local public health and safety requirements and legislation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. For advice to businesses in other parts of the UK please see guidance set by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government, and the Welsh Government.
We expect that this document will be updated over time. This version is up to date as of 11 May 2020. You can check for updates at www.gov.uk/workingsafely. If you have any feedback for us, please email email@example.com.
This document is one of a set of documents about how to work safely in different types of workplace. This one is designed to be relevant for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses.
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 working through these steps in order:
- In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.
- Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (keeping people 2m apart wherever possible).
- Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to 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.
- Further mitigating actions include:
- 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).
- 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 should 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 have not already done so, you should carry out an assessment of the risks posed by COVID-19 in your workplace as soon as possible. If you are currently operating, you are likely to have gone through a lot of this thinking already. We recommend that you use this document to identify any further improvements you should make.
- Contact your employee representative.
- Contact your trade union if you have one.
- Contact HSE online using our working safely enquiry form. https://hsegov.microsoftcrmportals.com/workingsafelyenquiries/
- Contact HSE by phone on 0300 790 6787 (lines are open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 10pm).
1.2 Sharing the results of your risk assessment
You should share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and we would expect all employers with over 50 workers to do so). Below you will find a notice you should display in your workplace to show you have followed this guidance.
We have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and shared the results with the people who work here
We have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with guidance
We have taken all reasonable steps to help people work from home
We have taken all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace
Where people cannot be 2m apart, we have done everything practical to manage transmission risk
Once the above 5 items have been checked please go to https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5eb963fcd3bf7f5d39550303/staying-covid-19-secure.pdf
print, sign and place in your workplace.
2. Who should go to work
Objective: That everyone should work from home, unless they cannot work from home.
Considering who is essential to be on site; for example, office staff should work from home if at all possible.
Planning for the minimum number of people needed on site to operate safely and effectively.
Monitoring the well-being of people who are working from home and helping them stay connected to the rest of the workforce, especially if the majority of their colleagues are on-site.
Keeping in touch with off-site workers on their working arrangements including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security.
Providing equipment for people to work from home safely and effectively, for example, remote access to work systems
Objective: To protect clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
-Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (see definition in Appendix) have been strongly advised not to work outside the home.
-Clinically vulnerable individuals, who are at higher risk of severe illness (for example, people with some pre-existing conditions, see definition in Appendix), have been asked to take extra care in observing social distancing and should be helped to work from home, either in their current role or in an alternative role.
-If clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable) individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to stay 2m away from others. If they have to spend time within 2m of others, you should carefully assess whether this involves an acceptable level of risk. As for any workplace risk you must take into account specific duties to those with protected characteristics, including, for example, expectant mothers who are, as always, entitled to suspension on full pay if suitable roles cannot be found. Particular attention should also be paid to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
Providing support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include advice or telephone support.
See current guidance for advice on who is in the clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable groups.
Objective: To make sure individuals who are advised to stay at home under existing government guidance do not physically come to work. This includes individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 as well as those who live in a household with someone who has symptoms.
Enabling workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate.
See current guidance for employees and employers relating to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19.
See current guidance for people who have symptoms and those who live with others who have symptoms.
Objective: To treat everyone in your workplace equally. • In applying this guidance, employers should be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals.
• It is breaking the law to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex or disability.
• Employers also have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers and those who are new or expectant mothers.
Understanding and taking into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics.
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.
Considering whether you need to put in place any particular measures or adjustments to take account of your duties under the equalities legislation.
Making reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage, and assessing the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers.
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 at work
Objective: To maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing from work, while in work, and when travelling between sites.
You must maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible.
- Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity 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. 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).
- Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms and canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing.
Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible, on arrival and departure and to ensure handwashing upon arrival.
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.
Providing additional parking or facilities such as bike- racks to help people walk, run, or cycle to work where possible.
Limiting passengers in corporate vehicles, for example, work minibuses. This could include leaving seats empty.
Reducing congestion, for example, by having more entry points to the workplace.
Using markings and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points.
Providing handwashing facilities, or hand sanitiser where not possible, at entry and exit points.
Providing alternatives to touch-based security devices such as keypads.
Defining process alternatives for entry/exit points where appropriate, for example, deactivating pass readers at turnstiles in favour of showing a pass to security personnel at a distance.
Reducing movement by discouraging non-essential trips within buildings and sites, for example, restricting access to some areas, encouraging use of radios or telephones, where permitted, and cleaning them between use.
Reducing job and equipment rotation.
Introducing more one-way flow through buildings.
Reducing maximum occupancy for lifts, providing hand sanitiser for the operation of lifts, and encouraging use of stairs wherever possible.
Making sure that people with disabilities are able to access lifts.
Reducing occupancy of vehicles used for onsite travel, for example, shuttle buses.
Regulating use of high traffic areas including corridors, lifts, turnstiles and walkways to maintain social distancing.
Objective: To maintain social distancing between individuals when they are at their workstations.
-For people who work in one place, workstations should allow them to maintain social distancing wherever possible.
-Workstations should be assigned to an individual as much as possible. If they need to be shared they should be shared by the smallest possible number of people.
-If it is not possible to keep workstations 2m apart, then extra attention needs to be paid to equipment, cleaning and hygiene to reduce risk.
Reviewing layouts, line set-ups or processes to allow people to work further apart from each other.
Using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help workers keep to a 2m distance.
Only where it is not possible to move workstations further apart, arranging people to work side by side or facing away from each other rather than face-to-face.
Only where it is not possible to move workstations further apart, installing screens to separate people from one another.
Using a consistent pairing system if people have to work in close proximity, for example, during two- person working, lifting or maintenance activities that cannot be redesigned.
Objective: To reduce transmission due to face-to-face meetings and maintain social distancing in meetings
Using remote working tools to avoid in-person meetings.
Only absolutely necessary participants should attend meetings and should maintain 2m separation throughout.
Avoiding transmission during meetings, for example, from sharing pens and other objects.
Providing hand sanitiser in meeting rooms.
Holding meetings outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms whenever possible.
For areas where regular meetings take place, using floor signage to help people maintain social distancing.
Objective: To maintain social distancing while using common areas.
Staggering break times to reduce pressure on break rooms or places to eat.
Using safe outside areas for breaks.
Creating additional space by using other parts of the worksite or building that have been freed up by remote working.
Using protective screening for staff in receptions or similar areas.
Providing packaged meals or similar to avoid opening staff canteens, where possible.
Reconfiguring seating and tables to maintain spacing and reduce face-to-face interactions.
Encouraging staff to stay on-site during working hours.
Considering use of social distance marking for other common areas such as toilets, showers, lockers and changing rooms and in any other areas where queues typically form.
Objective: To prioritise safety during incidents.
- In an emergency, for example, an accident, fire, or break-in, people do not have to stay 2m apart 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.
4. Managing your customers, visitors and contractors
Objective: To minimise the number of unnecessary visits to factories, plants and warehouses.
Encouraging visits via remote connection or remote working for visitors where this is an option.
Limiting the number of visitors at any one time.
Determining if schedules for essential services and contractor visits can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people, for example, carrying out services at night.
Maintaining a record of all visitors, if this is practical.
Objective: To make sure people understand what they need to do to maintain safety.
Providing clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene to people, for example, inbound delivery drivers or safety critical visitors, on arrival, for example, signage, visual aids, and before arrival, for example, by phone, on the website, by email.
Establishing host responsibilities relating to COVID-19, providing any necessary training for people who act as hosts for visitors.
Reviewing entry and exit routes for visitors and contractors to minimise contact with other people.
Coordinating and cooperating with other occupiers for those working in facilities shared with other businesses including with landlords and other tenants.
5. Cleaning the workplace
Objective: To make sure that any site or location that has been closed or partially operated is clean and ready to restart, including:
- An assessment for all sites, or parts of sites, that have been closed, before restarting work.
- Cleaning procedures and providing hand sanitiser, before restarting work.
Checking whether you need to service or adjust ventilation systems, for example, so that they do not automatically reduce ventilation levels due to lower than normal occupancy levels.
Most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, however where systems serve multiple buildings or you are unsure, advice should be sought from your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers.
Positive pressure systems can operate as normal.
Objective: To keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.
Frequent cleaning of work areas and equipment between uses, using your usual cleaning products.
Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, such as door handles, pump handles and printers, and making sure there are adequate disposal arrangements.
Clearing workspaces and removing waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift.
If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then you refer to the specific guidance.
Objective: To help everyone keep good hygiene through the working day.
Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique, the need to increase handwashing frequency, avoid touching your face and the need to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available.
Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.
Providing hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms.
Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible.
Enhancing cleaning for busy areas.
Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets.
Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.
Where possible, providing paper towels as an alternative to hand dryers in handwashing facilities.
Objective: To minimise the risk of transmission in changing rooms and showers.
Where shower and changing facilities are required, setting clear use and cleaning guidance for showers, lockers and changing rooms to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that social distancing is achieved as much as possible.
Introducing enhanced cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day.
Objective: To reduce transmission through contact with objects that come into the workplace and vehicles at the worksite.
Cleaning procedures for the parts of shared equipment you touch after each use, thinking about equipment, tools and vehicles, for example, pallet trucks and forklift trucks.
Encouraging increased handwashing and introducing more handwashing facilities for workers handling goods and merchandise or providing hand sanitiser where this is not practical.
Regular cleaning of vehicles that workers may take home. Regular cleaning of reusable delivery boxes.
6. Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) and face coverings
PPE protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment, such as face masks.
Where you are already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.
At the start of this document we described the steps you need to take to manage COVID-19 risk in the workplace. This includes working from home and staying 2m away from each other in the workplace if at all possible. When managing the risk of COVID-19, additional PPE beyond what you usually wear is not beneficial. This is because COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.
The exception is clinical settings, like a hospital, or a small handful of other roles for which Public Health England advises use of PPE. For example, first responders and immigration enforcement officers. If you are in one of these groups you should refer to the advice at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus- covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe-plan/covid-19- personal-protective-equipment-ppe-plan
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19- decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19- decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings.
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 .
There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.
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.
It is important to know that the evidence of the benefit of using a face covering to protect others is weak and the effect is likely to be small, therefore 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.
Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by law, including in the workplace. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.
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 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.
You can make face-coverings at home and can find guidance on how to do this and use them safely on GOV.UK.
7. Workforce management
Objective: To change the way work is organised to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts each worker has.
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.
Identifying areas where people have to directly pass things to each other, for example, job information, spare parts, samples, raw materials, and find ways to remove direct contact, such as through the use of drop-off points or transfer zones.
Objective: To avoid unnecessary work travel and keep people safe when they do need to travel between locations.
Minimising non-essential travel – consider remote options first.
Minimising the number of people travelling together in any one vehicle, using fixed travel partners, increasing ventilation when possible and avoiding sitting face-to-face.
Cleaning shared vehicles between shifts or on handover.
Where workers are required to stay away from their home, centrally logging the stay and making sure any overnight accommodation meets social distancing guidelines.
Objective: To help workers delivering to other sites such as factories, logistics sites or customers’ premises to maintain social distancing and hygiene practices.
Putting in place procedures to minimise person-to-person contact during deliveries to other sites.
Maintaining consistent pairing where two-person deliveries are required.
Minimising contact during payments and exchange of documentation, for example, by using electronic payment methods and electronically signed and exchanged documents.
Objective: To make sure all workers understand COVID-19 related safety procedures.
Providing clear, consistent and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of ways of working.
Engaging with workers and worker representatives through existing communication routes to explain and agree any changes in working arrangements.
Developing communication and training materials for workers prior to returning to site, especially around new procedures for arrival at work.
Objective: To make sure all workers are kept up to date with how safety measures are being implemented or updated.
Ongoing engagement with workers, including through trades unions or employee representative groups to monitor and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments.
Awareness and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19).
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.
Using visual communications, for example, whiteboards or signage, to explain changes to production schedules, breakdowns or materials shortages to reduce the need for face-to-face communications.
Communicating approaches and operational procedures to suppliers, customers or trade bodies to help their adoption and to share experience.
8. Inbound and outbound goods
Objective: To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the site, especially in high volume situations, for example, distribution centres, despatch areas.
Revising pick-up and drop-off collection points, procedures, signage and markings.
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.
Considering methods to reduce frequency of deliveries, for example by ordering larger quantities less often.
Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles.
Where possible, using the same pairs of people for loads where more than one is needed.
Enabling drivers to access welfare facilities when required, consistent with other guidance.
Encouraging drivers to stay in their vehicles where this does not compromise their safety and existing safe working practice, such as preventing drive-aways.