HSE Guide to Working Safely During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has provided information on its website, this will assist employers to make decisions on practical steps needed to make their place of work COVID secure.


Including its overview, the guidance provided is broken down into different topical areas covering:

  1. Risk Assessments;
  2. Talking to workers and providing information;
  3. Work from home;
  4. Make workplace ‘COVID secure’;
  5. Protect vulnerable workers;
  6. Cleaning, hygiene and hand sanitiser;
  7. Where to get further hellp.

The guidance overview says to start by updating the business’s health and safety risk assessment to manage the risk of coronavirus in the place of work. The purpose of this is to help the business understand what it needs to do in order to work safely and protect people (workers/employers/visitors/suppliers/contractors etc).
The guidance put in place by the HSE to make the workplace ‘COVID secure’ includes practical measures which can be taken: Putting in place social distancing measures; Staggering shifts; Providing additional handwashing facilities.

The HSE then also provides information at the below link to some sample risk assessment templates, businesses can adapt this to the needs of their place of work.


Employers should remember that they have a statutory responsibility to conduct risk assessments as per the management regs. Specifically in this case, employers should be seen to take steps to protect people from harm, this includes its employees.
Although normally a rule of thumb that employers who have fewer than 5 staff do not need to necessarily write down their risk assessments, in the context of COVID, it is advisable that risk assessments should be written down.

Steps employers should take when undertaking their workplace risk assessments should include:

  1. Identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  2. Think about who could be at risk
  3. Decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  4. Act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

it is advisable when going through these risk assessment steps to consult with employees and other stakeholders, this may involve the trade union in the place of work. It provides valuable opportunity t:

  1. Explain the changes you are planning to work safely
  2. Make sure changes will work and hear their ideas
  3. Continue to operate your business safely during the outbreak

And where it is possible for workers to work from home, then they should be allowed to do so. Employers should also provide employees with the equipment which will allow them to safely work from home, they should also maintain contact with them, at the same time support their wellbeing.

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