Government issues back to work guidelines for labs
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has released advice and guidelines for companies on how to return to return to work safely and resume activity after lockdown measures are eased. The guidance also provides a section specifically for labs and research facilities. This comes as the Prime Minister set out a roadmap on how public services and certain categories of business will resume operations. Developed in consultation with 250 stakeholders, it provides an extra £14 million for the Health and Safety Executive to expand their work. Business can also download a notice they can display to inform people that they are complying with the guidance. Eight workplace settings are covered in the advice, with five key practical steps outlined below which are to be implemented as soon as it is practical:
- Working from home: All business must help those who can work from home to do so. Those who cannot and work at locations told to stay open, should go to work.
- COVID-19 Risk Assessment: In accordance with current health and safety employment and equalities legislation, a COVID-19 risk assessment must be completed with the aid of worker/trade unions to determine which measures to adopt. Results should be published on company websites, especially organisations with over 50 employees.
- Two-metre social distancing: This should be facilitated through office redesign, staggered start-times and opening more exits/entrance walkways.
- Transmission management: If the two-metre rule cannot be met, the risk of transmission must be managed. This could be through barriers, minimising contact between people or having them face away from one another.
- Intensifying cleaning procedures: More frequent cleaning is necessary of high-contact objects (keyboards, door handles). Sanitiser should be available at exit and entrance points.
The guidance also applies to shops potentially able to open on 1 June. All other businesses will be subject to new guidelines that shall be published at a future point. Business Minister Alok Sharma commented: “These are practical steps to enable employers to identify risks that COVID-19 creates and to take pragmatic measures to mitigate them.”