Making your business Covid-secure
During the national lockdown, workplaces should be taking all reasonable steps to help people to work from home. If staff are required in the workplace then businesses should review their procedures in light of the new, more transmissible variant. The Government has also published detailed sector guides to provide advice and support, visit Gov.uk's guidance on working safely.
The following steps will help to protect yourself, your staff and your customers:
1. Ensure that your COVID-19 risk assessment is still in place. Share it with all your staff as a reminder. Find out how to undertake a risk assessment. The Government's Covid secure guidance provides details on individual work settings and how to keep people safe.
2. Clean more often. Increase how often you clean surfaces, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your staff and your visitors to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.
3. Remind your visitors to wear face coverings where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your visitors are likely to be around people they do not normally meet.
4. Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or reinforcing one-way systems that your staff and visitors should follow. Consider how many people can be in each space while remaining socially distant and using barriers to separate people and introduce back-to-back or side-by-side working.
5. Try to ensure that staff work with the same team every day and minimise external contacts. Use fixed teams or shift patterns to reduce the number of people each person comes into contact with. Minimise deliveries and frequency of handling and use the same pairs of people for load handling where more than one person is needed.
6. Consider ventilation. Read advice on air conditioning and ventilation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
7. Keep music and other background noise to a minimum to prevent people from speaking loudly or shouting.
8. Ensure that all measures are also in place in breakout and communal areas and remind staff of the importance of these. Many workplace outbreaks have been caused by staff socialising before and after work or in break times when social distancing measured have been forgotten. Try to encourage people to avoid car sharing to travel to work.
9. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all staff and contractors for 21 days. Visit Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace for details.
10. Act fast if a staff or visitor shows symptoms. If a staff member; someone in their household or a visitor shows any signs of coronavirus (a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell) they should be sent home and encouraged to request a free test. Once they have ordered the test, they'll be asked by the NHS Test and Trace service to provide details of anyone who they have been in close recent contact with. This will not automatically be all their co-workers, but anyone who meets the definition of a close contact.
11. Support staff to self-isolate. Employers must not require someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work. You should help your employees self-isolate if they:
- have coronavirus symptoms and are waiting for a test result
- have tested positive for coronavirus
- are a member of the same household as someone who has symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus
- have been in close recent contact with someone who has tested positive and received a notification to self-isolate from NHS Test and Trace
If an employee is asked to self-isolate due to being a close contact of someone with covid-19, they must continue to isolate for ten days even if they test negative themselves. Any employer asking an employee to break self-isolation to work is committing an offence.
12. If a staff member tests positive, you should go through your risk assessment and consider if:
- anyone else needs to be sent home to isolate, if they have been in close contact (less than 2m) without additional precautions
- any additional cleaning is needed
If more than one member of staff tests positive in the workplace please let us know on CovidOutbreak@gateshead.gov.uk so that we can offer advice.
13. Encourage staff to get vaccinated. Download Public Health England's vaccination toolkit for employers.
Additional guidance is available to help hospitality providers reopen safely:
Where it is necessary to work in other people's homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so:
- to fulfil a legal obligation
- for work purposes (see guidance on working safely in other people's homes), or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services
- for the purposes of education or training
- for the purposes of childcare provided by a registered provider or for the purposes of supervised activities provided for children
If you are a business in Gateshead and would like advice or clarification on how to trade and adapt under the current Covid-19 restrictions or implement social distancing within your workplace, send us an enquiry and we'll get back to you.
We ask that all businesses and residents help us slow the spread of infection and adhere to the national guidance, reporting any concerns you may have where businesses which should not be trading are doing so, or not complying with requirements around the use of face masks, social distancing or self-isolating.
Our officers are working with Northumbria Police and other agencies. They're authorised to take action against businesses which breach the requirements outlined within the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 and will do so in a proportionate manner.