Document asks firms to make results public on company websites

The government last night finally published new guidance on what employers need to do to make workplaces safe for employees to return as lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

The guidance was published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy a day after Boris Johnson urged people to return to work as part of the first phase of a plan to lift lockdown restrictions.

hinkley 2

Sites up and down the country, including the huge Hinkley Point C scheme, have already begun implementing social distancing measures on site and in common areas such as canteens

Employers are now required to provide a risk assessment and Johnson promised: “Employers will not be allowed to get away with forcing people to work in conditions that are not covid-secure.”

On the risk assessment, employers are told: “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 businesses with over 50 workers to do so).”

On Sunday, the prime minister said that all those who can work from home should continue to do so, but that those who can’t, should return to work.

The guidance sets out in broad terms what the government will expect to be included in safe working strategies from employers from Wednesday this week, when the easing of lockdown measures begins to take effect in England.

As well as guidance for those working in construction, it includes other work locations, from factories and warehouse, to offices and contact centres, as well as homes and shops.

It was not immediately apparent to what extent the guidance differs from the existing guidance for working on construction sites, produced by the Construction Leadership Council, which has been in force since shortly after the lockdown was brought in. In addition, the document didn’t make clear whether it was designed to be read alongside the existing CLC guidance, or whether it should supersede it.

The guidance for construction can be found here.

What the guidance says

The 31 page document has been broken down into eight chapters with some of the advice listed below.

Coming to work and leaving work

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 telephones where permitted, and cleaning them between use

Moving around buildings and worksites

Reducing job rotation and equipment rotation, for example, single tasks for the day

Implementing one-way systems where possible on walkways around the workplace

Using signage such as ground markings or being creative with other objects to mark out 2m to allow controlled flows of people moving throughout the site

Reducing occupancy of vehicles used for onsite travel, for example, shuttle buses, and when needed, social distancing measures should be followed within the vehicles

Separating sites into working zones to keep different groups of workers physically separated as much as practical

Planning site access and ‘area of safety’ points to enable social distancing

Reducing the number of people in attendance at site inductions and consider holding them outdoors wherever possible with social distancing

Regulating use of high traffic areas including corridors, lifts, turnstiles and walkways to maintain social distancing

Common areas

Staggering break times to reduce pressure on break rooms or places to eat

Using safe outdoor areas for breaks

Creating additional space by using other parts of the workplace freed up by remote working

Reconfiguring seating and tables to maintain spacing and reduce face-to-face interactions

Shift patterns and working groups

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, such as shared tools, materials or job instructions, and find ways to remove direct contact, for example by using drop-off points or transfer zones

For those workers who are required to travel and stay away from home in onsite accommodation, creating fixed groups of workers so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people

Minimising worker congregation at bottlenecks such as timeclocks, entrances and exits and maintaining social distancing during shift handovers