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Working safely – practical actions for businesses

Posted on: June 4th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

Over and above hygiene and social distancing requirements, a safe return to work can present you with a wider range of people challenges – reluctant returners, dealing with health and safety concerns, sickness absence (to name a few). Our ‘safe return to work’ policy and guidance note can help you manage those challenges. Click here to find out more.

The government have recently updated their guidance to working safely during the current pandemic. Their practical actions cover five key steps which we’ve outlined below, but you should also refer back to relevant guidance for your specific sector which can be found here

1 – Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment 

You need to think about the risks your employees face, and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them. There’s no expectation for you to eliminate the risk entirely.

You’ll need to consult with your employees (or trade unions), carry out the assessment in line with HSE guidance, and share the results with your employees (or on your website if you have more than 50 employees).

2 – Cleaning procedures 

Put proactive routines in place to:

  1. Ensure appropriate hand washing / drying facilities and provide hand sanitiser around the workplace (entrances / exits, doorways and communal areas are good places to start)
  2. Frequently clean communal / busy areas, and objects or surfaces touched regularly
  3. Explain clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets

3 – Homeworking 

All reasonable steps should be taken to help people work from home where possible. This involved discussing arrangements with employees, ensuring they have the necessary technical equipment, and supporting their physical and mental wellbeing (here’s a reminder of our thoughts).

You should also consider carrying out a homeworking risk assessment – if you need support or guidance as to what this entails, click here and we can connect you with the right support.

4 – Maintaining two-meter social distancing 

  1. Avoid sharing work stations
  2. Put up signage to remind employees and visitors of the measures in place
  3. Mark out areas to help people maintain appropriate distance and arrange a one-way system through the workplace where possible
  4. Arrange for visitors to be by appointment only where possible

5 – Where the above can’t be achieved

If it’s not possible to maintain two-meter social distancing, you should manage transmission risk by:

  1. Considering whether certain activities need to continue in order for your business to operate
  2. Use screens to separate people, limit activity time as much as possible, and work back-to-back or side-to-side where possible
  3. Stagger arrival / leave times and reduce employee contacts by ‘partnering or fixing teams’


This update is accurate on the date it was sent (05 July 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.