What process should employers follow to control coronavirus risks in the workplace?
Where an employer asks employees to attend the workplace, the employer must ensure that it puts in place measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission as far as is reasonably practicable.
The UK Government has published a number of Working safely during coronavirus guides, setting out measures to reduce the risk of infection in different types of workplace. As public health is a devolved matter, employers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales should consult the UK Government guidance alongside guidance on the public health and safety requirements applicable to their location.
Central to each of the "Working safely" guides is the need for employers to carry out their own risk assessment and put control measures in place, based on factors specific to their workplaces and employees, using the government guidance to inform their decisions. They must consult employee representatives on the measures to be implemented.
While social distancing is no longer a legal requirement in England, from 19 July 2021, the "Working safely" guides recommend that employers consider measures to reduce contact between workers. Such measures could include using screens or barriers to separate people from each other and reducing the number of people each individual potentially has contact with by using "fixed teams or partnering".
Employers should put in place facilities and procedures to increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning and provide adequate ventilation.
The Working safely during coronavirus guidance includes recommendations on other areas including cleaning the workplace, the use of personal protective equipment and face coverings, and managing the workforce. Employers should consult the guides that are relevant to the types of workplace they operate.