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Working safely during coronavirus - new UK Government guidance

techUK summarises and signposts the latest Government guidance on working safely during COVID-19.

The UK Government yesterday published new guidance to help employers prepare their businesses and employees for a safe return to work. The Government, however, is very clear that “all reasonable steps should be taken by employers to work from home”.  

Remote working is encouraged as far as possible, given public transport networks operating social distancing measures meaning far less capacity and schools remaining closed to the majority of students (with exemptions made for children of key workers and specific vulnerable groups).  

However, for those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, the Government is now pro-actively encouraging a return to work.  

Guidance has been developed for 8 different workplace settings from offices to outdoor environments, laboratories to factories. All the documents are available to read here. 

In creating this guidance over 250 stakeholders have been consulted, including techUK. However,  feedback is continuing to be accepted – particularly where there may be questions regarding meaning or application, general concerns arising from the guidance or suggestions for additional advice or tools that would be helpful to employers or employees. 

If you have any suggestions please write in to our dedicated mailbox. 

For those businesses who now are planning a return to work the guidance focuses on four key points.  

1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment 

Employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers, trade unions or other employee representative groups. This will vary in different settings and it is important to check what the guidance is for your business in each specific context, recognising that some businesses will have multiple work-settings for example a business that has lab facilities, office space and carries out work in other people’s home.  

The Government is encouraging transparency in this space – “if possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.” 

HSE has provided guidance on how to conduct a risk assessment which you can find here. 

2. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible.  

Employers will need to reconfigure and re-design workspaces to maintain 2 metre distances. The guidance offers more details in the ways in which this can be achieved – with illustrative examples, in different work settings.  

Employers will need to consider – staggering start times, introducing different working patterns e.g shift working, creating one way walk-throughs and changing layouts in communal spaces, in order to achieve this.  

3. Manage transmission risk  

Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, the Government is advising employers to look at putting barriers in place or introducing measures to minimise the number of people in contact with one another.   

4. Reinforcing cleaning processes  

Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently and employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points. Downloadable notices which employers should display in their workplace is available within the guidance document.  

The Guidance does address the issue of PPE and face-coverings – please check the specific guidance relevant to your workplace setting. The Government has also produced specific guidance on how to make your own face coverings at home.  

The Government has also provided additional guidance for COVID-19 cleaning in non-healthcare settings, you can find this here. 

The Government has made an extra £14million available to HSE for extra call centre employees, inspectors and equipment if needed and has indicated that there will be more inspections by the HSE with random spot inspections.  

techUK will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available, so please regularly check techUK’s COVID-19 information hub

The team remain ready and available to assist and support both members and non-members alike. For any specific queries, please write in to our dedicated inbox. 


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