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What exactly are the rules for employers with Covid restrictions easing?

As we all know, the government has announced that prescribed covid restrictions are easing further, by unveiling details of the “living with Covid” plan. This, however, can be misleading as it does not mean that nothing needs to be done. Covid represents a risk to people and businesses, and so in the same way that other risks need to be assessed and controls put in place, the same applies to Covid.

22 February 2022

As we all know, the government has announced that prescribed covid restrictions are easing further, by unveiling details of the “living with Covid” plan. This, however, can be misleading as it does not mean that nothing needs to be done. Covid represents a risk to people and businesses, and so in the same way that other risks need to be assessed and controls put in place, the same applies to Covid.

All businesses should review working practices and install reasonable controls to reduce the risk “so far as reasonably practicable”. What this means to different businesses with their varying work environments and work processes can vary greatly, so a covid risk assessment specific to your business is important to ensure that what you put in place is suitable and sufficient.

We are available of course to help you with this assessment, so please do get in touch for assistance, and we have also provided information in this article which we hope you will find useful.

The HSE currently has in place an active advertising campaign to promote awareness among employers for what is now required. The HSE also has a useful page with lots of useful guidance information, which you can find here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm

Covid-19 Risk Assessment

This should be reviewed specific to your workplace, and the working environments your people work in.

Whilst there is no requirement for face coverings, you might want to consider whether you feel this is appropriate.

Supporting evidence states that face coverings have low economic costs and can be effective in reducing transmission in public and community settings, by reducing the emission of virus-carrying particles when worn by an infected person and may also provide a small amount of protection to an uninfected wearer.

Housekeeping

In order to ensure the risk of infection is reduced to the lowest level possible, the following items should be reviewed:

Daily cleaning of touch surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes/sprays.

Documentation

Is the project Covid-19 risk assessment on display and communication to all workers? Are records maintained of daily cleaning of office and welfare facilities and any other high contact points on-site?

Are welfare facilities suitable for the number of persons present on-site and well ventilated?

Ventilation

By providing good ventilation to indoor working areas, you can help to greatly reduce the risk of infection spread through aerosols. Further information can be found in the link to the HSE’s covid pages.

Working from home

Whilst no longer a requirement, many businesses have maintained a higher level of home working than before the pandemic.

This is a good measure to help reduce covid infection and risk to the workforce and business, however there are certain safety considerations for your home workers such as work station DSE assessments, stress and mental health. For more information on this please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Office/ indoor working areas

Where social distancing is not possible, consider implementing the wearing of face coverings.

Ventilate work areas by opening doors and windows where possible.

Provide hand sanitiser stations within the office and manufacturing area.

Ensure plant/tooling is sanitised between users/drivers.

Avoid the practice of hot-desking or if necessary, sanitise between users.

Other points

Promote the taking of lateral flow tests on a regular basis, as, not all persons with Covid-19 have symptoms.

Promote the uptake of the vaccine and booster jabs.

Where possible, undertake meetings via social media such as Teams.

Limit the number of visitors and undertake basic Covid-19 checks/procedures before allowing them on site, such as Covid-19 questionnaire, recording of their full name and contact number, taking of temperature, and hand sanitising.

Keep a record of all staff on-site daily.

Provide information to all employees on how they can play their part in reducing infection risk and transmission on-site by regular hand washing, social distancing, and following the latest guidance issued by HM Government of other areas outside of the work environment.

Monitor guidance from HM Government to ensure you comply with the latest requirements: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

The following links will provide more detailed guidance specific to each sector:

Construction and outdoor work

Events and attractions

Offices and factories

Hotels and guesthouses

Restaurants and pubs

Shops

We hope you have found this article helpful in letting you know about the current covid requirements and providing further information you might need as a starting point for your covid risk assessments.

As always, for further guidance or help, feel free to get in touch any time and we’ll be happy to help

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