Helping companies stay COVID-19 secure in England.

Helping companies stay COVID-19 secure in England.

ARTICLE · By Head of Technical and Trade Nick Boulton · 12 May 2020

We have been looking into the Government’s latest guidelines to interpret what they mean for your business, and highlight the points you should be aware of in the timber industry.

The main message for business from the new Government document OUR PLAN TO REBUILD:  The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy is that in order to commence or continue operation they must comply with new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines.

These critical new guidelines have been developed by the Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England in consultation with industry bodies, local authorities, trades union, and were published late last night. There are eight standalone documents concentrating on different aspects of the workplace and each is designed to help businesses undertake the necessary risk assessment within that aspect of their business.

These documents do not radically change the Government strategy for businesses in England nor do they contradict the CLC site operating guidelines  which TTF have been recommending to members since mid-April.  As expected, the documents reiterate that formal assessments must be undertaken to determine the COVID19 risk in each aspect of the business although, the fundamental messages about actions required remain the same:

  • Anyone who can work from home should continue to do so
  • Anyone with symptoms should not return to work, and should instead self-isolate, as should members of their household.
  • Maintaining 2m distances throughout the working day
  • Guidance and increased facilities for hand washing and hygiene
  • Frequent cleaning of shared equipment and contact points

 


Advice for England

We believe TTF members will find these documents a logical and useful way to help undertake COVID19 risk assessments and demonstrate to staff, customers and if necessary HSE inspectors that the required actions have been put in place throughout the business. TTF members will probably find the most relevant of the documents to be:

(1) Factories, plants and warehouses, (2) Offices and contact centres, (3) Vehicles, and (4) where members have trade or retail counters Shops and branches

There is also a “staying COVID19 secure” poster that businesses can display to confirm to staff and visitors they have undertaken risk assessments and implemented necessary actions.

It is important to appreciate that many workers will be anxious about the practicalities and safety of a return to work and so each of the above documents includes sections addressing some of these concerns. Businesses should also consider the demographic of their specific workforce, their individual circumstances and vulnerabilities. The ACAS website and the TUC’s report on returning to work provide good insight into these considerations.

Advice for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Finally for members with branches in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales who will have to wait a little longer before returning to work, HSE the Health and Safety Executive have published two new documents as below. These look to be the basis from which the latest England documents have been produced.

So given HSE have cross border responsibility for workplace safety it is reasonable to assume any guidance documents from Wales or Scotland coming along later will also use this base advice. Well worth a read for anyone looking to develop national return to work plans.  

Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak – a short guide (PDF)

Talking with your workers about working safely during the coronavirus outbreak (PDF)