COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Guidance aim to ensure a healthy and safe working environment for employees by authorising the enforcement of the standards developed under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. It contains suggestions as well as information on mandatory health and safety standards. The suggestions are advisory in nature, informational in content and are proposed to assist employers in providing a safe and healthy workplace. This guide also assists employers by providing information, research, workplace risk assessment, education, and training in the field of occupational health and safety.
Guidance on adapting workplaces for COVID-19
On 11th March 2020, WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic, and by 4th April 2020, there were over one million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Several public health organisations including Public Health England as well as businesses have been taking control measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
This guide aims to provide general guidance and information to employers on how to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace as well as facilitate workers to return to work safely while keeping the risk of contamination as low as possible.
How does COVID-19 spread?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, most of which circulate among animals but can be transmitted to humans. The human spread of COVID-19 occurs mainly through direct, indirect, or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidance – Best Practices
- Preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
- Make sure that workplaces are clean and sanitised. Contaminated surfaces and objects (e.g. desks, telephones, keyboards) need to be regularly wiped with disinfectant.
- Promote regular hand cleaning by placing hand dispensers around the workplace and remind employees to hand sanitise through the display of posters.
- Promote good respiratory hygiene in the workplace and ensure that employees are wearing face masks.
2. Controlling COVID-19 risks during in-house meetings and travel.
- Check the guidelines from the authorities in the community where the meeting is to be held and follow their advice.
- Develop and create a preparedness plan to prevent infection and maintain social distancing.
- Make sure that employees who are traveling for meetings are briefed by a qualified professional or workplace COVID-19 Health and Safety consultant.
- Ensure employees know what to do and whom to contact if they feel ill or experience any symptoms during traveling.
3. Establishing workplace procedures
- Carry out employee screenings including temperature checks.
- Ensure that employees self-monitor, report any symptoms and self-isolate.
- Prohibit employees from coming to work until all home isolation criteria has been met (follow CDC guidance).
- Ensure that employees follow social distancing practices and measures.
- Install physical barriers between customers and / or employees.
4. Providing employee training
COVID-19 Back to Work Awareness Training Course should include:
- How COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person.
- How long COVID-19 remains in the air and on environmental surfaces.
- Signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
- Steps the employee must take to inform the employer of signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or suspected or confirmed analysis of COVID-19.
- Steps the employee must take to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Train new policies and screening procedures.
- Changes in-shift schedules and telework duties.
- Employee Sick and Leave Policy.
- Cleaning of the workspace.
- PPE requirements.
- Training on new disinfectant chemicals.
5. Getting your workplace ready in case of future COVID-19 outbreaks in your community
- Create a plan outlining what to do if someone becomes ill with COVID-19 at your workplace.
- Advise people to avoid public transport and crowded places.
- Promote teleworking and keep your business operating.
Simple precautions, planning and action will help to protect your employees and business.