Working during the coronavirus lockdown: social distancing advice from HSE

Outsource Safety LtdSafety newsWorking during the coronavirus lockdown: social distancing advice from HSE
April 9, 2020 Posted by Roger Hart

Working during the coronavirus lockdownThose businesses which do have to remain open have a clear responsibility to their staff who are still working during the coronavirus lockdown.

there are a number of things which you can do to help control the risk including;

  • establishing a rota for use of all communal and welfare areas to enable social distancing of at least 2 metres;
  • asking staff about their personal circumstances, are they or a close family member lving with them at a higher risk?  See our blog post on this for further information;
  • enhancing the cleaning and disinfection processes within the workplace with an emphasis on the communal areas and commonly touched areas and locations (see this blog on cleaning for more information);
  • splitting shifts of workers with a thorough clean between each shift (this can help ensure lower exposure and greater resilience should an infection occur);
  • ensuring that sign-in procedures are controlled for infection risk (perhaps having a single person record time at site negating the need for clock in and out systems or shared pens and paper for signing in and out;
  • asking staff to leave mobile phones in their cars and allowing them to check on them at break times (these phones travel everywhere with us and are often difficult to disinfect.  Textured phone cases are common and provide a multitude of hiding places for the virus.

These are just a few suggestions.  Please see some of our other coronavirus resources below for more information.  If you are a retained client on our competent person service, Safety~net we have a range of other documents available for your use, just call the office or your consultant for more help.  See below for HSE’s update on maintaining social distance and keeping your business working below.

Toolbox talks


Social distancing, keeping businesses open and in-work activities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (HSE)


Social distancing

  • In these extraordinary times, HSE is constantly reviewing the fast-moving situation with our partners across government to support the national effort to tackle COVID-19.
  • While social distancing is fundamentally a public health measure introduced to reduce the spread of infection, we recognise the concerns raised on social distancing within the workplace and are in contact with trade unions.
  • Where HSE identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant PHE guidance to control public health risks, eg employers not taking appropriate action to socially distance or ensure workers in the shielded category can follow the NHS advice to self-isolate for the period specified, we will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. These actions include the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements with the PHE guidance.

Essential and non-essential work

  • Keep your business open. With the exception of some non-essential shops and public venues, we are not asking any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.
  • Employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home. Where it is not be possible to work from home you can still travel for work purposes, provided you are not showing coronavirus symptoms and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating.
  • Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able, where possible, to follow Public Health England guidelines on social distancing (including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others), and hygiene (washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds). Follow government guidance on how to keep your employees safe.

In-work activity

  • All workers are encouraged to keep working and should be working from home if they can.
  • Only travel to work when you absolutely cannot work from home. Protect yourself, your workers and help save lives by staying at home. Follow government guidance on what you need to do.
  • If you are travelling to your workplace you will still need to observe the social distancing guidance whilst you are travelling, as far as is practical. Social distancing means staying 2 metres (6ft) apart from other people.
  • In your workplace, you need to observe, where possible, the social distancing guidance.

We hope that this information helps you.  If you have any questions relating to Coronavirus please contact your retained safety consultant if you are a member of our Safety~net competent person service. We have a number of documents available for retained clients including model risk assessments, flow charts on isolation, administering first aid and home working, toolbox talks for office-based and field-based staff and similar documents which are being developed each day.  We’re still open, our phone lines are live and we’re ready to help when needed.