COVID-19 Working Safely Guidance Updated (England)

Following press announcements yesterday and the day before, the government’s Working Safely Guidance (England) is updated to reflect a change to the 2m rule (to allow a lesser distance) and add guidance on support bubbles.

Information on the updates that have taken place to the Working Safely Guidance (England) and access to the updated documents is here.

Note : physical distancing of 2m continues to be applied in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

COVID-19 Workplace Guidance (England)

Yesterday (25 May) saw the key Working Safely guidance for different workplaces (issued 11 May) updated to reflect industry feedback and to expand coverage of non essential retail categories ahead of planned opening.

On the 19 May, the 5 steps for businesses to take were added – here. Please note (as I posted before, check back on my Blog, the risk assessments of larger businesses must be published on their websites).

You should share the results of your risk assessment with your employees. If possible, you should consider publishing it on your website (and we would expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so).

Notice that should be displayed in the workplace – here.

The Working Safely Guidance link is here.

Please note the links to the guidance issued in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where the timetable of non-essential business re-opening differs.

Non-essential retail in England will re-open in June, as set out in the PM timeline issued yesterday 25 May –

• Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing.

• All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.

Certain businesses and activities must remain closed – see here. This is underpinned by enacted law.

COVID-19 Business OHS Rules (UK)

UPDATE (2) : All employers must carry out a covid-19 risk assessment and share the results with the workforce says BEIS Secretary (statement in Parliament) “we expect all employers with over 50 employees to share the risk assessment on their website”.

UPDATE : garden centres will also reopen in Wales

As promised, the UK state has now published updated and new business and workplace OHS rules, applicable throughout the UK, as follows –

(1) 11 May update to the page that identifies and links to business rules that have been temporarily relaxed – some of these have an Occupational Health and Safety relevance – here.

(2) 8 new sector guides, dated 11 May, to help employers, employees and the self-employed in all parts of the UK understand how to work safely during the COVID pandemic – here.

These sector guides add to the already published guidance on workplace risk assessment that is issued by the UK and the devolved administrations I posted about some weeks ago.

* Construction and outdoor work – here

* Factories, plants and warehouses – here

* Homes (work in domestic settings) – here

* Laboratories and research facilities – here

* Offices and contact centres – here

* Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery – here

* Shops and branches – here

* Vehicles – here

Note, the UK has identified different classes of premises –

(1) essential premises – those that must stay open

(2) non-essential premises – those that must stay closed

(3) the rest of non-essential premises not in the list of closed premises.

The devolved administrations have slightly different variants on these three groups – see the COVID-19 Law List in Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists, referred to in Email Alerts.

The above 8 sector guides are to be applied to the groups (1) and (3) above. There is no change in the list of stay closed premises (2) except in England, where Garden Centres will be allowed to open from Wednesday 13 May (and this will require a change in the England Restrictions Regulations).

COVID-19 New State Guidance (England)

UPDATE : FAQs are here

I posted this morning that new guidance would be published at 2pm today.

This new guidance comprises –

(1) the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy (60 pages) (England) – here

(2) new guidance on staying alert and social distancing (England) – here

(3) new guidance on staying safe outside the house – here

In addition, Transport for London has issued guidance asking for everyone to wear a non-medical face covering on public transport in London for the entire journey.

The London Mayor has also issued a video on social media asking all travellers on London public transport to wear a non-medical face covering for their entire journey.

The new state guidance (England) on how to wear and make a cloth face covering is here.

This is a lot to take in, and I will issue further separate Blog posts on the matter.

Workplace Organisation and Transport guidance will be issued tomorrow, so expect further Blog posts also then.

COVID-19 Construction Site Operating Procedures (England)

The Construction Leadership Council has published Construction Sector Site Operating Procedures (SOPs) in their third edition, dating 14 April, applicable in England.

These cover hygiene at the construction site, first aid at the construction site, social distancing at the construction site, and travel to and from work at the construction site. Please see the full contents list at the start of the document.

The practical measures set out are relevant not only at construction sites, but at many other workplaces (hence this post).

The document is here.

COVID-19 Air Conditioning (UK)

One of the aspects that will be considered in any workplace assessment is ventilation and the guidance and instructions around forced ventilation and air conditioning, and refrigeration.

The Institute of Refrigeration (IOR) has put together a useful compilation of COVID-19 resources. Note, the government has not issued specific COVID-19 refrigeration or air conditioning guidance.

The IOR compilation is here.

IOR notes at the top of the page –

This information has been provided by ACRIB (The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board) of which IOR is a member.  It is provided as a link to resources that may be helpful for those working to provide safe and reliable HVAC building services and refrigeration essential to supporting hospitals, buildings, food chain, IT infrastructure and industrial processes. UK Government has not issued specific guidance for the operation of mechanical ventilation or air conditioning although UK trade associations are in regular contact with relevant departments on this issue. We will add extra links or information as they become available.

Picking out a few points –

(1) The UK Government has advised that essential maintenance and repair remains important work and government guidelines must be followed but with many buildings closed BESA have produced SFG20 Building Maintenance under COVID-19 as a free download (link given)

(2) The London and Southeast ASHRAE group have recorded a webinar presentation by Prof Ljubomir Jankovic, the University of Hertfordshire on Air Borne infectious diseases and building HVAC services, it covers building operation for owners and engineers. (link given)

(3) The European Federation of Heating and Ventilation Engineers, REHVA, guidance page covers how to operate and use building services in areas with coronavirus outbreak to prevent virus spread. (link given)

(4) HSE guidance on Equipment subject to written schemes and Examination and testing of pressure equipment (links given).

COVID-19 Return to Work Safely Protocol (Ireland)

Ireland (the Republic of Ireland) has a staged programme of release of COVID-19 restrictions. On 9 May, the Irish state published a Return to Work Safely Protocol.

This Protocol is here.

The Protocol asserts – (I have separated some of the sentences to make reading easier – this is not the full Protocol, please follow the link to the actual document)

Adherence to this protocol will only be achieved if employers and workers have a shared responsibility to implement the measures contained in this protocol in their place of work. A collaborative approach to the implementation of the protocol is essential to achieve success and maximum buy-in.

Each workplace will appoint at least one lead worker representative charged with ensuring that COVID-19 measures are strictly adhered to in their place of work. The person(s) undertaking the role must receive the necessary training and have a structured framework to follow within the organisation to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

Employers will have regular and meaningful engagement with their worker representative, workers and/or their recognised Trade Union or other representatives (including their Health and Safety Committee where this exists) about the measures being put in place to address the occupational exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Employers will provide a COVID-19 induction training for all workers.

The number of worker representatives for COVID-19 appointed will, ideally, be proportionate to the number of workers in the workplace and this person should be clearly identifiable in the workplace.

Employers and worker representatives will work together to ensure that all the actions in this protocol are fully adhered to in order to ensure the suppression of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Note that this Protocol is not intended to replace the existing measures that essential businesses, which have continued to operate, have already implemented. However, such businesses should review their existing measures to ensure they are in line with this Protocol.

The Protocol should be used by all workplaces to adapt their workplace procedures and practices to comply fully with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures identified as necessary by the HSE (the Irish state public health authority, not to be confused with the HSA which is the Irish state workplace Health and Safety authority). It sets out in very clear terms for employers and workers the steps that they must take before a workplace reopens, and while it continues to operate.

A high-level consultative stakeholder forum, under the aegis of the Labour Employer Economic Forum, will be established. This forum will include membership from the various bodies with responsibility for health and safety at work and for public health more generally. The forum will allow for ongoing engagement at national level on implementation issues in light of evolving public health advice and other factors.

COVID-19 HSE Guidance (Britain)

I posted before about COVID-19 guidance and instructions being developed and published by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The link is here (and there is more there).

Note the RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19, first aid cover and qualifications during the outbreak, and the system of contacting the HSE with workplace concerns.

Please note the other links from this page.

50 pages of detail of the new COVID-19 Strategy (England) is being published at 2pm today, and I will post then about that.

Tomorrow, new workplace guidance will be published, and new transport guidance. I will post about these topics then (likely two posts),

COVID-19 Workplace Risk Assessments (UK)

The UK media has shared overnight and this morning, some content of new draft workplace organisation rules (as yet unpublished) that were circulated to some business groups and trade unions yesterday for feedback, and to the media this morning.

Core to these new draft rules is mandatory COVID-19 Workplace Risk Assessment. Risk assessment is the cornerstone of UK Health and Safety management, formalised years ago at EU level, applicable in the EU member states also. The UK media accounts identify mandatory separate written COVID-19 Workplace Risk Assessment, possibly for all companies irrespective of size.

Although as yet unpublished, it is expected new Workplace Rules will be published perhaps within this week, if lockdown restrictions are eased. I will issue another Blog post once the new Workplace Rules are published. Please look out for that Blog post.

By the COVID-19 law, the UK Prime Minister next reviews the current COVID-19 lockdown (premises etc restrictions) rules on Thursday.

COVID-19 EU-OSHA Guidance for the Workplace (EU)

On 6th April, EU-OSHA issued Guidance for the Workplace applicable in EU member states and other places that recognise EU-OSHA. Here

This guidance is designed to assist employers and businesses in providing advice to staff in non-healthcare settings on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

It explains how to help prevent the spread of respiratory infections such as COVID-19 and what to do if someone with suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in the workplace.

There is also advice on travel and meetings as well as links to further information and resources.

Please read carefully.

[this document will be added to Cardinal Environment Ltd EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists covering EU member states]