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Guidance & Definitions

  • COVID-19 roadmap

    Step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown has begun https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021-summary#step-3---not-before-17-may. 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. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do#be-careful-a-new-covid-19-variant-is-spreading-in-some-parts-of-england

    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 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021-summary 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. The government will provide a further week’s notice to individuals and businesses before making changes.

    Labs and research facilities can open under all steps, if they’re COVID-secure.

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

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

  • Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment, including consideration of the reasonable adjustments needed for staff and customers with disabilities. Share it with all your staff. Find out how to do a risk assessment.

  • 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.

  • Remind your visitors to wear face coverings where required to do so by law, for instance using signage. This is an important reminder to help mitigate transmission. It 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.

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

  • 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 advice on ventilation and air conditioning from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

  • Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all staff, contractors and visitors for 21 days. Check ‘Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace’ for details.

  • Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If a staff member (or someone in their household) or a visitor has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating. Employers must not require someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work. Any employer asking a worker to break self-isolation to work is committing an offence.

  • s.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). https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19

  • Five more things to be aware of if your business is a lab or research facility:

  • Work with the same team every day. Use fixed teams or shift patterns to reduce the number of people each person comes into contact with.

  • Reduce crowding. Consider how many people can be in each space while remaining socially distant. Use fixed teams or have staff book rooms or labs to avoid overcrowding.

  • Arrange workspaces to keep staff apart. Consider using barriers between workstations and introduce back-to-back or side-to-side working.

  • Clean shared equipment. Clean workstations and shared equipment frequently and limit the number of people who use them.

  • 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.



  • 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 in or run indoor labs and research facilities and similar environments.

    This includes indoor research environments such as:

    • engineering centres
    • clean rooms
    • prototyping centres
    • wet labs
    • wind tunnels
    • computer labs
    • simulators
    • material development labs
    • specialist testing rooms

    Labs and research facilities require on site collaboration between people, often in close proximity. Flexibility of both shifts and floor layouts may be limited and there is a high use of multiple use items such as testing machines and apparatus, not all of which can be washed down.

    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 on this guidance, please email safer.workplaces@beis.gov.uk.

How to use this guidance

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

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

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

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

1. Thinking about risk

1. Thinking about risk

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

  • Show Guidance:

  • 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

  • Use the HSE form available at https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm.

  • Contact HSE by phone on 0300 790 6787.

  • 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. For example, this would cover employers not taking appropriate action to ensure social distancing, where possible.

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

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

1.1 Managing risk

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

    As an employer, you have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level. You do this by taking preventative measures.

    You must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace to protect everybody’s health and safety.

    In the context of COVID-19, this means working through these steps in order:

  • 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.

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

  • Office workers who can work from home should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-secure guidelines are followed closely.

  • Make every reasonable effort to ensure your employees can work safely. Consider reasonable adjustments for employees or customers with disabilities, including disabilities that are not immediately obvious. When in the workplace, everyone should make every reasonable effort to comply with the government’s social distancing guidelines. These are These are 2 metres or 1 metre+ with risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable.

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

  • Consider these additional control measures where 2 metre social distancing is not possible:<br><br>– increase the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning even more<br>– keep the activity time involved as short as possible<br>– use screens or barriers to separate people each other<br>– use back-to-back or side-to-side working whenever possible, instead of face-to-face<br>– 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)

  • 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.

  • 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 a level that makes it hard to have normal conversations. This is because there is potentially an increased transmission risk, especially from aerosol transmission.

  • 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.

  • If your building has been unoccupied for a period during any lockdowns, consider legionella risk and HSE advice.

  • 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 must consider the rest of the recommendations below as you go through this process. You could also consider any advice that has been produced specifically for your sector. For example, by trades associations.

    If you are 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

  • Show Guidance:

  • You should share your risk assessment results with your workforce.

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

    All businesses should show their workers and clients 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.

  • 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 safely from a COVID-19 Secure workplace or work from home

  • We have taken all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace

  • Where people cannot keep 2m apart, we have ensured at least a 1m distance and taken all the mitigating actions possible 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.

    Screenshot 2020-05-13 at 17.23.07.png

2. Who should go to work

2. Who should go to work

  • Objective: Employers should ensure workplaces are safe for anyone who cannot 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 workers 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.

    When employers consider that workers should come into their place of work, they should:

    reflect this in the COVID-19 workplace risk assessment
    take action to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance

  • You will usually need to:

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

  • Consider the maximum number of people who can be safely accommodated on site.

  • Monitor the wellbeing of people who are working from home. Help them stay connected to the rest of the workforce. This is especially important if most of their colleagues are on-site.

  • Keep in touch with off-site workers on their working arrangements, including their:<br><br>– welfare<br>– mental and physical health<br>– personal security

  • Provide equipment for people to work from home safely and effectively. For example, remote access to work systems. Account for different types of needs, including the needs of people with disabilities.

2.1 Protecting people who are at higher risk

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

    There are some groups who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. They may be advised to take extra precautions to protect themselves. See guidance on who is at higher risk 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:

  • See current guidance for advice on who is in the clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable groups. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/whos-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus/

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

  • 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:

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

  • See current guidance related to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19 for: <br><br>– employers https://www.gov.uk/employers-sick-pay<br>– employees https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay

  • 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.<br><br>These symptoms are:  <br><br>– a high temperature<br>– a new, continuous cough<br>– a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste<br><br>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. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

  • 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.

  • 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. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-contacts-of-people-with-possible-or-confirmed-coronavirus-covid-19-infection-who-do-not-live-with-the-person/guidance-for-contacts-of-people-with-possible-or-confirmed-coronavirus-covid-19-infection-who-do-not-live-with-the-person

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 disabled customers.

    You also have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers and those who are new mothers or pregnant women.  Read the COVID-19 advice for pregnant employees.

  • You will usually need to:

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

  • Involve and communicate appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either: <br><br>– expose them to a different degree of risk <br>– make any steps you are thinking about inappropriate or challenging for them 

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

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

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

  • 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.

2.4 Ventilation

  • Objective: To use ventilation to mitigate the aerosol transmission risk of COVID-19 in enclosed spaces.

    Ventilation should be used as a control measure to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19 in enclosed spaces.

     Ventilation will not reduce the risk of droplet or surface transmission.

    This means you will also be required to put in place other control measures. These include cleaning and social distancing. 

    There are different ways of providing ventilation, including: 

    mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts 
    natural ventilation which relies on passive flow through openings, such as doors, windows and vents 
    You can provide ventilation through a combination of the two. 

    The risk of transmission is greater in spaces that are poorly ventilated. HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning explains how you can identify those spaces. It also explains steps you can take to improve ventilation. 

    Read advice on air conditioning and ventilation from HSE. https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation.htm

3. Social distancing at work

3. Social distancing at work

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

  • Show Guidance:

  • • It will not always be possible to keep a distance of 2m in labs and R&D facilities that may be designed for close-proximity collaboration. Fixed equipment may mean that changing layouts 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 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:
    - Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.
    - Using screens or barriers to separate people from each
    - 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).
    - Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
    • Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing and workers should be specifically reminded.

  • You can mitigate risk by:

  • 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)

  • increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning 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 entrances and exits, break rooms and canteens and similar settings. 

    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 wherever possible, on arrival and departure and to ensure handwashing upon arrival.

  • You will usually need to:

  • 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.

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

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

  • Reduce congestion. For example, create more entry points to your workplace in larger stores.

  • Use markings and introduce one-way flow at entry and exit points, where possible.

  • Designate exclusive entry and exit points for personnel working in high-risk areas. For example, mechanical test sites and wet labs.

  • Provide handwashing facilities at entry and exit points. If this is not possible, provide hand sanitiser.

  • Maintain use of security access devices, such as keypads or passes, and adjust processes at entry/exit points to reduce transmission risk. For the same reason, adjust your processes at entry/exit points. For example, clean pass readers regularly and ask staff to hold their passes next to pass readers, rather than touching them.

  • Provide workers with storage for clothes and bags.

  • Ask staff to change into work uniforms on site. Use appropriate facilities/changing areas, where staff can meet social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

  • Wash lab clothing and equipment such as goggles and gloves on-site instead of individual staff members doing it at home.

  • See government guidance on travelling to and from work and getting help with daily activities outside your home during coronavirus. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supporting-people-outside-of-their-home/supporting-people-outside-of-their-home

3.2 Moving around buildings and worksites

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

    lift practices.PNG
  • You will usually need to:

  • Reduce movement by discouraging non-essential trips within buildings and sites. For example, restrict access to some areas. Encourage people to use radios or telephones or other electronic devices where permitted. Clean them between uses.

  • Remove access controls on low category labs, so people do not have to use access cards.

  • Restrict access between different areas of a building or site, if possible.

  • Use fixed teams or adjust booking processes to reduce how many people are in a lab at once. This will help avoid overcrowding.

  • Introduce more one-way flow through buildings. Pay particular attention to long corridors. They can be more common in laboratory buildings.

  • Reduce maximum occupancy for lifts and provide hand sanitiser for lift operation. Encourage people to use stairs wherever they can.

  • Make sure that people with disabilities can access lifts.

  • Manage how people use high traffic areas to maintain social distancing. This includes corridors, lifts, turnstiles and walkways.

3.3 Workplaces and workstations

  • Objective: To make sure people maintain social distancing when they are at their work stations, wherever possible.

    Unlike offices, workers at R&D facilities may need to share workstations and equipment. In such cases, they should be shared by the smallest possible number of people.

    When working areas cannot be made to comply with social distancing guidelines:

    ask yourself if the work being done is vital to keep your business going
    take all mitigating actions you can to cut transmission risk

  • You will usually need to:

  • Review layouts and processes where possible, accepting the limitation of some lab environments.

  • Use floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people comply with social distancing guidelines.

  • Use screens to create a physical barrier between people.

  • Avoid people working face-to-face. For example, by working side-by-side or facing away from each other.

  • Use a consistent pairing system if workers have to be in close proximity. For example, for maintenance activities that cannot be redesigned.

  • Manage occupancy levels, to maintain social distancing in labs with restricted space. For example, adapt booking systems to limit usage.

  • Clean workstations and shared equipment and machinery, where feasible.

  • Limit the use of high-touch items and shared office equipment. For example, test equipment, apparatus, shared control terminals.

  • Ensure appropriate air-handling and filtering systems are installed and maintained in high-risk areas where there is a risk for airborne particles.

3.4 Meetings

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

  • You will usually need to:

  • Use remote working tools to avoid in person meetings.

  • Ensure participants physically attend meetings only where necessary. They should maintain social distancing guidelines. These are 2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable.

  • Avoid transmission during meetings caused by sharing objects. For example, pens and documents.

  • Provide hand sanitiser in meeting rooms.

  • Hold meetings outdoors wherever possible. Otherwise use rooms where there is good ventilation. This could be:<br><br>- fresh air through open doors, windows and vents<br>- mechanical ventilation, such as air conditioning<br>You can also provide good ventilation through a combination of both.

  • Air rooms between meetings. Open all the doors and windows as fully as possible to maximise the ventilation in the room.

  • Use floor signage to help people maintain social distancing in areas where you hold regular meetings.

3.5 Common areas

  • Objective: To maintain social distancing while using common areas. Modern lab and research buildings are often designed with many common areas to encourage collaboration and networking.

  • You will usually need to:

  • Stagger break times to reduce pressure on break rooms or places to eat. Ensure social distancing is maintained in staff break rooms.

  • Use safe outside areas for breaks.

  • Create additional space by using other parts of the working area or building that have been freed up by remote working.

  • Install screens to protect workers serving customers at till points.

  • Provide packaged meals or similar to avoid fully opening staff canteens.

  • Encourage workers to bring their own food.

  • Move round seating and tables to make the best use of space and reduce face-to-face interactions.

  • Encourage workers to stay on-site during working hours. If they have to go off-site, encourage them to maintain social distancing at all times.

  • Manage how locker rooms, changing areas and other facility areas are used. This will help reduce how many people use them at once.

  • Encourage staff to store personal items and clothing in personal storage spaces during working hours. For example in lockers.

3.6 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:

    when you are giving first-aid

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

  • You will usually need to:

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

  • Consider the possible security implications when you are thinking of changing how you work. Your changes may present new or altered security risks. These risks may need mitigations.

  • For organisations who conduct physical searches of people, consider how to ensure the safety of those conducting searches while maintaining security standards.

  • See government guidance on managing security risks. https://www.cpni.gov.uk/staying-secure-during-covid-19-0

4. Managing your customers, visitors and contractors

4.1 Managing contacts

  • Objective: To minimise the number of unnecessary visits to offices.

  • You will usually need to:

  • Encourage people visitors to visit and work remotely where possible.

  • Limit the number of visitors at any one time.

  • Limit visitor times to a specific time window and restrict access to required visitors only.

  • See if you can reschedule essential services and contractor visits to reduce people overlapping and interacting. For example, carry out services overnight.

  • Maintain a record of all visitors, if this is practical.

  • Encourage visitors to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises.

  • Revise visitor arrangements for better social distancing and hygiene. For example, where someone physically signs in with the same pen in receptions.

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:

  • Give people clear guidance on social distancing and hygiene when they arrive. For example, with signage and visual aids. Consider the particular needs of those with protected characteristics, such as those who are hearing or visually impaired.

  • Establish host responsibilities related to COVID-19. Provide any necessary training for people who act as hosts for visitors.

  • Review entry and exit routes for visitors and contractors. Do this to minimise contact with other people.

  • Coordinate and work collaboratively with landlords and other areas of facility sites. For example, where R&D facilities or labs are situated on science parks.

  • Tell visitors they should be prepared to remove face coverings if asked to do so by police officers and staff for identification.

  • Ensure the information you provide to visitors does not compromise their safety. For example, advice on the location or size of queues.

5. Cleaning the workplace

5.1 Before reopening

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

    Before you restart work, you should:

    assess all sites, or parts of sites, that have been closed
    review cleaning procedures and provide hand sanitiser

  • You will usually need to:

  • Check if you need to service or adjust mechanical 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 if they draw in a supply of fresh air. See the HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning for more information. https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation/index.htm

  • Positive pressure systems can operate as normal.

  • Restart and test specialist equipment which may have been unused for longer than usual.

5.2 Keeping the workplace clean

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

  • You will usually need to:

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

  • Determine the required cleaning process for expensive equipment that cannot be washed down. Design protection around machines and equipment.

  • Frequently clean objects and surfaces that people touch regularly. This includes door handles and testing surfaces. Make sure there are adequate disposal arrangements for cleaning products.

  • Clear workspaces and remove waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift.

  • If you’re cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19, refer to the guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

  • Provide extra non recycling bins for workers and customers to dispose of single use face coverings and PPE. You should refer to the guidance on how to dispose of personal or business waste, including face coverings and PPE. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-disposing-of-waste

5.3 Hygiene – handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets

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

  • You will usually need to:

  • Use signs and posters to make people aware:<br><br>– how to wash their hands well <br>– that they should wash their hands frequently <br>– that they should not touch their faces <br>– they should cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into their arms if a tissue is not available

  • Provide regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.

  • Provide hand sanitiser in multiple accessible locations, as well as washrooms. Consider the needs of people with disabilities.

  • Set clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets. This is to ensure they are kept clean and people maintain social distancing as much as possible.

  • Enhance cleaning for busy areas.

  • Provide more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.

  • Provide hand drying facilities. Provide paper towels, continuous roller towels, or electrical dryers.

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

5.4 Changing rooms and showers

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

  • You will usually need to:

  • 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.

  • Enhance cleaning of all facilities regularly during the day and at the end of the day.

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

5.5 Handling goods, merchandise and other materials, and onsite vehicles

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

  • You will usually need to:

  • Put in place cleaning procedures for material and equipment entering the site.

  • Put in place cleaning procedures for the parts of shared equipment you touch after each use.

  • Put in place cleaning procedures for vehicles.

  • Encourage people to wash their hands more often. Put in place more handwashing facilities for workers who handle deliveries. Provide hand sanitiser where this is not practical.

  • Regularly clean vehicles workers may take home.

  • Restrict non-business deliveries. For example, personal deliveries to workers.

6. Personal Protective<br>Equipment (PPE) and face coverings

6.1 Face coverings

  • Show Guidance:

  • 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 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 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that PPE has an extremely limited role in providing extra protection.

    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.

6.2 Face coverings

  • Show Guidance:

  • A face covering is something which safely covers 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. 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. 

    People are 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, 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

7.1 Shift patterns and working groups

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:

  • 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.

  • Identify areas where people have to directly pass things to each other. Find ways to remove direct contact, such as using put-down-pick-up processes.

  • 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

  • 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 30 contain clusters or outbreaks.

    Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-traceYou 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. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace

7.1.3 Outbreaks in the workplace

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

  • You will usually need to:

  • 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. https://www.gov.uk/health-protection-team

  • Contact your local PHE health protection team if you’ve had an outbreak and need further guidance. Find your local PHE health protection team.

  • If your local PHE health protection team declares an outbreak, you will be asked to:<br><br>– record details of staff with symptoms of COVID-19<br>– assist with identifying contacts <br><br>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: <br><br>– implement control measures <br>– assist with communications to staff<br>– reinforce prevention messages 

7.2 Work- related travel

7.2.1 Cars, accommodation and visits

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

  • You will usually need to:

  • Walk or cycle where possible. If that’s not possible, you can use public transport or drive. You must wear a face covering when using public transport. 

  • Keep to a minimum the number of people outside your household or support bubble who travel together in one vehicle. Wherever possible:<br><br>– use fixed travel partners <br>– do not sit face-to-face 

  • Provide adequate ventilation by switching on ventilation systems that draw in fresh air or opening windows. You could open windows only partially if it’s cold. For more information on ventilation in vehicles read HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning.

  • Clean shared vehicles between shifts or on handover.

  • When your workers have to stay away from their homes, centrally log their stay. Make 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:

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

  • Maintain consistent pairing where 2-person deliveries are needed.

  • Keep contact to a minimum during payments and when documents are exchanged. For example:<br><br>– use electronic payment methods <br>– 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:

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

  • Engage with workers and worker representatives through your normal channels. Do this to explain and agree to any changes in how you work.

  • 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 kept up to date with how safety measures are being implemented or updated.

  • You will usually need to:

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

  • Be aware of and focus on mental health. Mental health is important, especially during times of uncertainty. See the guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of COVID-19. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19

  • Use simple, clear messaging to explain guidelines using images and clear language. You should consider people:<br><br>– who do not have English as their first language <br>– who have protected characteristics, such as visual impairments  

  • Use visual communications to explain changes to schedules, breakdowns or materials shortages. For example, whiteboards or signage. Do this to reduce the need for face-to-face communications.

  • Communicate approaches and operational procedures with suppliers, customers or trade bodies to help their adoption and to share experience.

7.4 Staff canteens and restaurants

  • Objective: To keep the workplace clean and prevent transmission

    Staff canteens and restaurants that are open to the public should follow the guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/restaurants-offering-takeaway-or-delivery. They must maintain records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.

    Staff canteens and restaurants that are open to staff only will usually need to take the steps below.

  • If your business has staff canteens or restaurants that open to only staff, you will usually need to:

  • Make sure hand washing facilities or hand sanitiser are available at canteen entrances. Make sure their use is supervised.

  • Stagger break times to prevent overcrowding, so that staff can follow social distancing rules.

  • Mark queue points clearly on the floor, to ensure social distancing is possible.

  • Make sure that staff who do not share a household never share food or drink.

  • Minimise self-serving options for food and drink. As far as possible, food served and/or displayed should be individually wrapped. This will help minimise contact and avoid spread of infection.

  • Increase how often everything is cleaned. Pay special attention to surfaces that people touch with their hands. For example table tops, drinks levers, keypads, grab-rails, elevator buttons, light switches, and door handles.

  • Wash plates, cutlery and glasses by hand in hot soapy water. Or wash them with detergent in a dishwasher rated for disinfection.

  • Thoroughly clean canteens and restaurants after each staff group uses them.

  • Provide adequate ventilation by opening doors, windows and vents or by mechanical ventilation through fans and ducts, or a combination of both. HSE guidance on ventilation and air conditioning provides further information.

  • Consider ways to reduce how staff use cash to buy food or drink. For example, a system that only uses debit cards and contactless payment.

  • Where you can, match cohorts of workers zoned canteen areas.

8. Inbound and outbound goods

8. Inbound and outbound goods

  • Objective:
    To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the site.

  • You will usually need to:

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

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

  • Consider ways to make less frequent deliveries. For example, order larger quantities less often.

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

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

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

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

9. Tests and vaccinations

  • 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 where possible, frequent cleaning, good hygiene and adequate ventilation.  

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

9.1 Workplace testing

  • Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a free NHS test. https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-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. https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests

    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. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing/regular-rapid-coronavirus-tests-if-you-do-not-have-symptoms/

    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. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-guidance-for-employers/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-guidance-for-employers-and-third-party-healthcare-providers

Where to obtain further assistance

  • • Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

    • Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for employers and businesses https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support

    • Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for employees

    Find advice and support from your business representative organisation or trade association. (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-support-from-business-representative-organisations-and-trade-associations)

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The templates available in our Public Library have been created by our customers and employees to help get you started using SafetyCulture's solutions. The templates are intended to be used as hypothetical examples only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice. You should seek your own professional advice to determine if the use of a template is permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction. You should independently determine whether the template is suitable for your circumstances.