COVID-19 Aviation Health & Safety Protocol (EU)

On 15 April 2020, the European Commission, in cooperation with the President of the European Council, put forward a Joint European Roadmap setting out recommendations on lifting COVID-19 containment measures. I Blog posted about this at the time.

As called for in the Roadmap, on 13 May 2020, the Commission put forward further guidelines on how to progressively restore transport services, connectivity and free movement as swiftly as the health situation allows it, while protecting the health of transport workers and passengers. I also put a Blog post about this.

The Commission Communication mandated EASA (the European Union Aviation Safety Agency) and ECDC (the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) to issue jointly more detailed technical operational guidance for the aviation sector.

This document is here.

As the document itself says –

The purpose of this aviation health safety protocol is to provide guidance to airport operators, aeroplane operators and national aviation authorities, as well as other relevant stakeholders, on how to facilitate the safe and gradual restoration of passenger transport. This is subject to the deployment of proportionate and effective measures to protect the health of aviation personnel and passengers, by reducing the risk of SARS- CoV-2 transmission in the airport and on board aircraft as much as practicable.

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 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 England Restriction Changes (England)

Last night, the UK Prime Minister addressed the nation signalling changes to the England COVID-19 Restrictions rules and guidance.

The transcript of this address (10 May) as delivered is here.

The Scottish First Minister had earlier in the day confirmed no changes in Scotland, and this had been followed by similar announcements by the leaders of the other devolved administrations, Wales and Northern Ireland.

At 2pm today, 50 pages of detail will be published, these will relate to England. At 3.30pm the UK Prime Minister will present a Ministerial Statement of the new COVID-19 Strategy to Parliament, and a debate will follow.

Tomorrow, 11 May, will see publication of new workplace guidance (I posted about this some days ago) and also new transport guidance.

I will post again when the 50 pages of detail is published.

A few details from the 10 May address (with additions from this morning’s press and media briefings and Ministers answering questions from the public) –

(1) changes will be made to outdoor exercise and transport rules, applying from Wednesday 12 May (England)

(2) those workplaces not listed in the restrictions law that had shut anyway should reopen from Wednesday 12 May (England) (adhering to new workplace guidance issued tomorrow 11 May)

(3) new transport guidance will be issued tomorrow 11 May for workers not able to work from home

(4) new outdoor exercise rules will apply from Wednesday 12 May (England)

(5) new published COVID-19 alert message (England)

(6) new published COVID19 alert levels (England)

(7) 14-day quarantine for arrivals at ports and airports (England) (date as yet unspecified)