Rules for returning to work – key points from new Government guide

Measures to make workplaces, including offices, construction sites and factories “Covid-19 safe” have been described by the government.

The detailed guidance covers eight different institutions and is divided into practical steps that, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), should be implemented “as soon as practical”.

Guidelines are set up for workplaces categorized as construction and other exterior work, factories, factories and warehouses, homes, laboratories and research facilities, offices and contact centers, restaurants, shops and vehicles.

The guidelines apply to companies that are allowed to open under the current lockdown rules, and stores that can begin “phased reopening” as of June 1 if the virus transmission decreases.

The rules comply with the 50-page government lockout plan for England and may not apply in all four countries.

These are the main factors on which BEIS said these steps should be based:

– Those who can must work from home

Employers should “take all reasonable measures” to allow staff to work from home. Where that is not possible and the workplaces have not been ordered to close, the government said that people should go to work.

– Assess risks in consultation with workers or unions

Health and safety, employment and equality laws require employers to conduct Covid-19 risk assessments and consult personnel or unions. Companies should publish the assessment if possible and BEIS said that all companies with more than 50 employees were expected to do so.

– Where possible, a social distance of two meters should be maintained

Work areas need to be redesigned to allow a two-meter distance between people, while other measures could include staggered start times, creating one-way paths around locations, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating plans to break areas.

– Manage the transmission risk if a distance of two meters is not possible

This could include placing barriers in shared spaces, creating shift patterns or permanent teams to minimize contact between people, or making colleagues look away from each other.

The guidelines state that multiple people should avoid traveling in the same vehicle and that vehicles should not be shared if possible.

Additional safety measures should be considered if social distance is not possible for people such as couriers, mobile workers and truck drivers.

If a risk assessment shows that personal protective equipment is required, it should be provided free of charge to workers who need it and properly fit it.

But government guidelines say that workplaces should “not encourage the preventive use of additional personal protective equipment to protect against Covid-19 outside clinical settings,” such as hospitals or responding to a suspected or confirmed case of the virus.

Employers are encouraged to support their employees in the safe use of facial covers if they choose to wear one.

– Clean more often

Workplaces need to be cleaned more often, with an emphasis on regularly touched objects such as door handles and keyboards. Employers are told to provide hand washing facilities or hand sanitizers at entrances and exits. A relevant notice to be displayed can be downloaded from the government website.


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