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 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 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]

COVID-19 Workplace Social Distancing (2) (Wales)

New legislation is in force – The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 – these will be added to Subscribers’ Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Law Checklists COVID-19 Law List.

These amend the Welsh Coronavirus Restrictions Regulations issued earlier (in the COVID-19 Law List) to give legal underpinning to the Workplace Social Distancing requirement –

New Regulation 6A –

6A.—(1) A person responsible for work being carried out at premises where a person is working must, when such work is being carried out during the emergency period, take all reasonable measures to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises (except between two members of the same household, or a carer and the person assisted by the carer).

(2) Paragraph (1) does not apply to premises used in the carrying on of a business, or provision of a service, listed in Schedule 1.

Schedule 1 is the Schedule 1 in main Welsh Coronavirus Restrictions Regulations that sets out the businesses subject to restrictions or closure.

New Regulation 7A inserts an obligation to have regard to guidance issued to Welsh Ministers on workplace social distancing (see blog post earlier this morning).

COVID-19 Information for Businesses (Ireland)

NSAI (the National Standards Authority of Ireland) issued (27th March) a Workplace Protection and Improvement Guide – here.

This recommends Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness to stay home if they are well enough to do so or contact the health service if they are acutely unwell. They should not come to work and should restrict their movements for 14 days from symptom onset, the last five days of which should be fever free.

Employers can also put up appropriate signage on their premises and generally communicate the HSE (Health Service Executive) recommendations to prevent infection spread. The HSE have created posters which employers can use which are available here.

The Department of Health has (26th March) issued guidance for supply chain workers – here.

This specifies that Drivers should follow social isolation guidelines. This applies both when they are abroad and also in Ireland. This means they should limit their contact with others to the greatest extent possible both during work time and when not working. If contact with others is unavoidable, leave a distance of at least 2 metres.

Instructions are set out for shop workers and other workers.

The HSE has general guidance (1st April) – here.

This specifies people movement restrictions.

The government’s essential services detail (published 28th March) in the general stay at home instruction until the 12th April is here.

The government’s public health measures in place until 12th April (published 1st April) is here.

The government introduced emergency legislation to restrict movement two-and-a-half weeks ago.

But according to Irish broadcaster RTÉ, gardaí had no powers to enforce it because the necessary regulations had not been signed.

Mr Harris signed the regulations on Tuesday night (last night).