Following a number of weeks in lockdown the government has started to publish details of the exit strategy and returning to work, with the guidance currently applicable to England only. What should you be considering as you prepare to return to work?
Guidance for England
For England, the government has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.These 8 guides cover a range of different types of work. The guidance documents set out guidance on how to work safely. It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in the workplace. Each business will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of their business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated. Government has confirmed that non-essential work can be carried out where it can be undertaken safely. Tradespeople should follow the guidance for working in people’s home, including undertaking a risk assessment and making every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines. No work should be carried out in a household which is isolating because one or more family members has symptoms or where an individual has been advised to shield – unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household.
Guides cover the following topics:
- Construction and other outdoor work
- Factories, plants and warehouses
- Offices and contact centres
- Other people’s homes
- Shops and branches
Included within the guidance is a poster to display to confirm you have complied with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-Click here to view the poster.
HETAS has updated our template Risk Assessment to include considerations relating to COVID19 and can be used in support of the government guides and your own risk assessments. These templates are available from the registrant only Technical Area.
Some tips you should consider in changes to your current working practices:
- Consider use of technology – can you provide a home visit remotely to assess/pre-survey or consult on a problem
- Complete your risk assessment and method statement prior to the visit – again you can carry use technology where possibly to assess the site you will be working from
- Issue preparation guidance to customers – these can be hosted on your website and/or sent via email in advance (to include measures the homeowner can take in advance of your visit)
- Confirm appointments in advance – ensure nobody in the property is isolating or being shielded – you will need to reschedule if this is the case
- Phone ahead on the day to ensure no circumstances have changed and again at arrival
- If you have employees, ensure they are fit and healthy prior to working
- Wash your hands regularly, including on arrival and departure (provide handwashing facilities for your employees). Discuss hand washing options with your customers in advance and have adequate provision available during your visits
- Consider the requirement for Enhanced Personal Protective Equipment
- Use appropriate disinfectants and sanitisers
- Discuss in advance with the customer how you will access the space you need to work in and without interruption
- Where possible, request that your customers clear your working area in advance of arrival, to avoid the need for you to touch anything unnecessarily
- Ensure adequate ventilation – ask your customer to open doors and windows prior to arrival (include such guidance in your customer preparation guidance)
- Always maintain social distancing throughout your work and follow the guidance as specified by government (and specific to the region in which you work)
- Operate contactless payments – consider options like PayPal.Me if you aren’t set up for easy payments online
- Providing social distancing-compliant measures for issuing of certificates and accepting payments.
- Wash your clothes regularly
As always, ensure you have provided a written quote/contract, these can be done electronically to avoid exchanges in paperwork on site.
The current government guidance for tradespeople is that you can continue work, providing that you are well and have no symptoms to undertake essential repairs and maintenance in people’s homes. This guidance is subject to change over the coming weeks and months and at a localised level.
Should you be working on a construction site, rather than an occupied property, the government has also provided guidance.
HSE has also produced new guidance that will help you keep workers safe (COVID secure) during the outbreak.
The guidance covers the steps you should take to protect workers and others, in line with your normal legal duties in managing risk and risk assessment at work.
The following guides will help you manage the risk from coronavirus in your business during this time:
- Working safely during the coronavirus outbreak – a short guide This guide covers who should work, protecting those at higher risk, getting into and leaving work, organising work areas, and good hygiene.
- Talking with your workers about working safely during the coronavirus outbreak Guidance on consulting your workers and measures to prevent coronavirus in your workplace and to make it COVID secure.
In addition HSE has guidance on Managing risks and risk assessment at work.
How can customers help in advance? You should be communicating with your customers in advance of appointments to visit their home, be it for a survey, installation work, servicing or sweeping and throughout the process.
Workplaces such as hospitality and nonessential retail are during this first step of the Government required to remain closed. To aid planning, the Government’s current aim is that the second step will be made no earlier than Monday 1 June, subject to conditions being satisfied.
The second step goes on to state:
Opening non-essential retail when and where it is safe to do so, and subject to those retailers being able to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. The intention is for this to happen in phases from 1 June; the Government will issue further guidance shortly on the approach that will be taken to phasing, including which businesses will be covered in each phase and the timeframes involved.
For showrooms, you can now start to prepare for the 1st June using the government guide, available in the following link:
Many showrooms are now gearing up for the 1st June and some are offering virtual appointments or personal appointments, ensuring social distancing measures are adhered to. If you have office or call centre staff operating the government has published guidance that can be used to support you.
Keep up to date withe latest government announcements relating to coronavirus at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Up to date information from HSE on coronavirus can be viewed here.
Latest HETAS News can be found at www.hetas.co.uk/category/hetas-news.